Dumbledore glanced at the man sitting in front of him. Tom Marvolo Riddle was, quite possibly, the most gifted wizard to ever grace the halls of Hogwarts. Power literally oozed from the pores of this man's skin - a tangible aura that changed the minds of those around him.
His eyes flitted around at objects in the room, and Dumbledore knew he was hiding something. Tom had always had secrets. He recalled that day, years ago, when he had retrieved the orphan from that hovel he once called home. The box full of trinkets and the wicked twists of magic that had entangled themselves throughout the house.
The pale hand sitting on the arm of the chair twitched nervously, nails clacking against polished mahogany.
Tom truly had not changed from the boy he once was. Something about him would never change - an innate sense of survival which forced him to look within others' minds, bend them to his will. Tom had learned so much of magic, and yet nothing of himself. He still believed he needed to fight to survive - needed to hurt anyone and everyone simply so that he could live.
No. This could not be. Not while Dumbledore was Headmaster. Tom would only taint the minds of the students, bend them to his way of thinking. Hogwarts was a place of learning, not of dominion. Tom was honed to dominate.
But if he turned this man away, where would Tom go? Dumbledore had no doubt that Tom Marvolo Riddle would not be content to walk away to a better life. He would always want what he was not given, and for that, he would go elsewhere.
Dumbledore knew this was a choice between keeping him here...keeping him safe, or sending him away into the darkness in which others had always abandoned him. Tom trusted him, up to a point. He had been the one to take him from the orphanage; he had been the one to help him in his first year of Hogwarts. If he turned Tom away now, the only trust Tom had allowed himself would lash back at him. He would be wounded, once again - and Dumbledore feared he would never return from the darkness.
To keep him safe, or to keep Hogwarts pure? Dumbledore wished, once again, that he had never become Headmaster of his beloved school. If only someone else could tell Tom - but the students were his dependents, and he must protect them. Tom was no longer a student, and could no longer be protected.
Dumbledore said softly, "I'm afraid, Tom, that you will have to look elsewhere for a position worth your time. Hogwarts is no longer in need of a professor in Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Dumbledore watched the young man sweep out of the room, wondering if he had made the right decision. Tom Marvolo Riddle was, quite possibly, the most dangerous wizard to ever grace the halls of Hogwarts.