Chapter 1: The Arrival
June 6, 1944
The second werewolf howl had been closer than the first. The full moon didn't filter much light beneath the thick canopy of trees, and Tom Riddle decided he had enough moonseed for the potion he was creating. He had tentatively named it the Drink of Despair, but it didn't really need a name. It just needed to do its job, and he wouldn't be publishing it anytime soon. He gathered the rest of the poisonous plants in a handkerchief and gingerly put the handkerchief into his potions satchel. He had to take care not to crush any of the moonseed, or it would release an airborne toxin.
Tom stripped off the dragonhide gloves as he strode from the Forbidden Forest and back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was near the beginning of June and the evening was warm; fragrant with all the plants that thrived under the light of a full moon. Tom wasn't worried about being caught. He had a note from Professor Slughorn, his Head of House. In addition to the moonseed, he had collected asphodel and wood avens for the Draught of Living Death they would be brewing during next week's Potions class. Even if someone caught him, his note would get him out of trouble from everyone, save maybe Dumbledore. Tom grinned when he thought of all the other little notes Slughorn had given him over the years. The professor was surprisingly easy to manipulate for a Slytherin. Tom had access to the Restricted Section since he was a third year, courtesy of Slughorn, and was regularly given notes to be out of class to pursue his own research interests.
He was halfway to the castle when he heard a cacophony of werewolf howls. Tom sped up, anxious to get back to the castle. As he drew nearer to the front stairs, he saw that something wasn't quite right. Even though the moon was high in the sky, casting a bright light over the dark grounds, there was a strange shadow on the steps. It swayed for a moment and then crumpled to the ground.
Tom picked up his speed, careful not to jostle his potions satchel too much as he hurried toward the steps. Just as he placed his foot on the bottom stair, the werewolf howled once more. This time the hair on the back of Tom's neck stood on end. He could feel the eyes of the werewolf on him from the edge of the forest.
Tom didn't hesitate. He scooped the person who had collapsed on the steps into his arms and dashed inside. He'd left the crossbar off the doors when he went to the forest earlier, but now, he replaced it quickly with a mumble and a wave of his wand. He was still cradling the inert person when the doors shook from the force of the werewolf impacting them. Tom shivered and took a deep breath to close his mind. The werewolf wasn't getting inside. Even now, Tom could hear its paws click back down the stairs.
He finally examined the person in his arms. It was a girl, he realized, and she looked so grey and cold that for a moment, he swore she was dead. Tom set her down in the Entrance Hall and checked for a pulse. His own heart hammered so loudly in his chest that he almost couldn't find hers. But then he felt it. It was thready and faint, but there.
He studied her for a moment but didn't recognize her. She certainly didn't attend Hogwarts. She was petite and
had bushy, brown hair. Her clothes were torn in places and dirty as if she'd been in a fight or battle. They were also very unusual. Her jumper wasn't so odd, but she was wearing it with denims like Tom had seen Muggle factory workers wear. She had a wand clutched tightly in her hand, so Tom knew she was a witch. He wondered where she'd come from and how she'd gotten into Hogwarts.
It didn't matter. If he wanted the answers to any of those questions, he'd need to get her to the Hospital Wing. He groaned as he thought of Madam Davies, the harridan that presided over the Hospital Wing. She would pepper him with questions that he wouldn't be able to answer, but Tom was also not going to let the girl die in the castle threshold. He was aiming to be Head Boy next year after all, and this might just be the action that would give him the lead.
He scooped the girl up once more and carried her bridal style toward the Hospital Wing. His potions satchel still hung from his shoulders and gently bumped against his hip. The castle was dark, and Tom was thankful he kept his wand in his hand so he could light his way. The portraits didn't care for it, but when they saw his burden, most quieted down again. Tom ignored them.
Tom backed through the double doors of the Hospital Wing and lowered the girl on the nearest bed. The wing appeared deserted. He headed toward the back of the ward and tried Madam Davies' office door. It was locked. He rapped on it loudly.
"Madam Davies?" he called out with a glance over his shoulder to see if the noise had roused the girl. No luck.
"Mr Riddle? What is the meaning of this?" Madam Davies snapped, and Tom whipped around to face her.
"I found a girl collapsed on the steps of the castle," Tom said and pointed at the still figure on the bed.
Madam Davies pushed past him as she wrapped her housecoat snugly around herself. He'd never seen her so disheveled before, but then Tom had never spent much time in the Hospital Wing. Her iron-grey hair was braided down her back, and she wore a pair of faded-black slippers. Her legs were bare below her worn blue housecoat, which stopped at mid-calf.
She bustled toward the girl and examined her quickly. She looked around the ward to confirm that she had no other patients waiting and waved her wand. Lights zoomed from her wand to each of the sconces on the wall, brightening the room instantly.
Tom blinked at the sudden brightness and joined Madam Davies next to the girl's bed.
"Tell me everything," Madam Davies said briskly.
Tom relayed how he found her as the mediwitch cast diagnostics over the girl. Tom didn't know much about healing magic beyond basic first aid for minor injuries. It wasn't an area that interested him all that much, so he couldn't decipher what the diagnostics said.
"If you can't be of further use, go wake Headmaster Dippet," she snapped.
Tom jumped at the sound of her voice and nodded. Madam Davies was a right bear in the best of times. Waking her up in the middle of the night was not going to produce a better personality.
Tom went to the Headmaster's quarters and gave the password. Prefects were given the passwords to all teachers' outer offices. A ward dinged as he stepped behind the gargoyle and waited patiently as the hidden stairs began to ascend. By the time he arrived in the office proper, Headmaster Dippet was climbing down a second set of stairs, yawning.
"Headmaster Dippet," Tom greeted with a respectful nod. Dippet was even easier to manipulate than Slughorn, and Tom had him wrapped around his finger since becoming a prefect. "I found a girl collapsed on the front steps as I was returning from my potions collecting. Madam Davies asked that I summon you."
"Alright, my boy. Shall we?" The headmaster gestured for Tom to lead them back to the Hospital Wing.
Once there, Tom could see the girl didn't look so pale and grey. Instead of looking dead, she just looked as if she were asleep.
"You can go, Mr Riddle," Madam Davies snapped as she saw them enter the ward.
Tom nodded and wished them both a good night. He made his way back to the dungeons and his dorm. He wondered if the girl had awoken. And where was she from?
June 9, 1944
Later that week, Tom began hearing the rumors: there was a girl with nine lives, a girl who was dead and came back to life. He questioned Abraxas Malfoy intensely when he heard the boy tell someone that a girl had come back to life. Tom was disappointed when he realized they were talking about the girl who had collapsed on the steps a few days before. She hadn't died, Tom had saved her life. He had been looking for testimonials about people who were able to die and come back alive because he was very interested in immortality.
Tom never wanted to die. That's why he had created a Horcrux last June. In truth, the timing had been an accident. Well, creating the Horcrux was intentional, but the girl was merely a bystander. Myrtle Warren, just a random, third-year Ravenclaw, not someone Tom had taken the time to know personally. He'd sent the basilisk out to kill when he'd discovered the Chamber of Secrets, and all it had done so far was petrify. When he found Warren dead, he was elated. He closed his eyes as he thought back to that fateful day.
Quickly entering the girl's bathroom on the second floor, Tom cast a hasty warding charm at the door to warn him if someone intended to come in. He needed to get down to the Chamber of Secrets and call off the Basilisk. Hogwarts was going to close if the monster wasn't stopped. Professors Dumbledore and Dippet had been adamant about that. Tom had planned to close the chamber, blame the Gryffindor, Hagrid, and be done with it.
The basilisk was fascinating but impractical for Tom's purposes. It hadn't done anything but petrify a few people. When he turned back from warding the door, he was startled by the dead body lying half out of the stall. He looked at her for a moment, how had she died? When he didn't find any bodily injury, he gasped and realized it was his Basilisk that had killed her. He had murdered her. Deep in his bones, he felt a ripping sensation and knew it was his soul. It hurt, so fucking bad. It was so painful, he cried out at the rending feeling in his soul and fell to his knees on the floor. He wanted to vomit but managed to hold it off. He couldn't take his eyes off of Warren, lying on the cold floor, brown eyes gazing unseeing at the ceiling above her.
He had underestimated how excruciating it would be to make a Horcrux. A soul cleave was painful enough. Then, to tear that piece of soul away from the rest and force it into another object was agonizing beyond his reckoning. He hadn't known, but when he understood what was going on when the pain of the split in his soul lessened some, he got to work.
First, he dug his diary out of his school bag and then began the cleansing ritual necessary to force the object to accept his soul fragment. Once that was done, he cast the curse that took the ripped piece of soul and shoved the smaller segment into the diary. His soul fought him the entire time, trying to slip around the magic and rejoin the more substantial piece still inside him, but Tom persevered and was eventually able to succeed
Once done, he lay gasping on the bathroom floor, staring into the dead girl's glassy eyes. He was unable to move for hours, unable to stop his mind from careening between consciousness and darkness. Luckily, nobody came through his hurried ward. It had been imperfect and would have looked incredibly incriminating had he been found lying on the floor, staring at a dead body.
This experience was one of the reasons he had recently focused so much of his personal study on Occlumency. He was already building skills in Legilimency and had always assumed his mind was too keen to truly need Occlumency. Now he knew otherwise. He would need both to be truly safe.
For weeks after the ritual, he felt as if something was missing as if he forgot something. He took to carrying his diary, his new Horcrux, around everywhere to ease the feeling. It had helped. Eventually, he'd become used to it and stopped carrying the diary, which had been the point, after all. It would have been silly to keep it on him at all times.
His diary was now safe in case he was ever killed. If he were ever killed, another Dark ritual, a couple of potions, and Tom would live again. He had done his research well.
And so, he was excited when he'd heard of the girl with nine lives. Perhaps Horcruxes weren't the only way to immortality. They were very painful, and Tom planned to make six of them so that he would have seven bits of his soul. He had time though, and if there were a more natural way, Tom would take it.
June 16, 1944
As with most rumors, it turned out nobody really knew anything. The girl still hadn't woken up since Tom had found her two weeks ago. He visited every day, usually just stopping in when he knew Madam Davies would be busy with other tasks. The girl, Avens, he'd taken to calling her in his head. Like the Wood Avens that began blooming in February. Her hair especially reminded him of their roots which Tom had been collecting the night he found her. Avens had been moved to the back of the Hospital Wing and had a privacy curtain drawn around her.
Tom would slip behind the curtain and stay awhile, reading or working on homework. It was nice to get away from everyone for a bit. He was often interrupted when he was in the Slytherin common room or the library. His followers — his Knights — knew better and made an effort to discourage most interruptions. But even they weren't always around. It could be anything from someone asking for homework help to a crowd of girls, giggling and making sheep's eyes at him. He knew he was considered good looking, and he rather used it to his advantage. But he didn't have time for girls.
He was looking over his translation for Ancient Runes when he heard a gasp. He looked up and Avens was awake, her eyes staring widely at the ceiling. He stood quickly from his chair and looked down at her. She had big, brown eyes that were the color of whiskey, which widened in shock and for the first time, Tom noticed she had a smattering of freckles across her nose.
"Wh-Who are you?" Avens asked, her voice shaky and hoarse from misuse.
"Tom Riddle, at your service," he smirked at her and offered a small nod.
Suddenly, Madam Davies' diagnostic charms started going off. The girl's eyes widened even further, and she began trying to get away from him.
"No, no, no," she muttered repeatedly as she thrashed on the bed.
"Madam Davies!" Tom called out. "We need you!"
"I'm right here, you silly boy. No need to shout," Madam Davies scolded as she pushed aside the curtain and began assessing Avens.
"Go get Professor Dippet, Mr Riddle," Madam Davies said brusquely.
Tom stood watching for a moment, but the girl only thrashed harder.
"Now, Mr Riddle!" Madam Davies snapped.
Tom rushed off and tore out of the Hospital Wing toward the Headmaster's office. He didn't want to miss a word that the girl might say. He spat the password at the gargoyle and raced up the stairs calling for the headmaster.
"What is it, Mr Riddle?" Headmaster Dippet asked, half-rising from behind his ornate desk.
"The girl — she's awake," Tom bent over his knees, trying to catch his breath. He had run nonstop, and now he regretted it. Tom knew he looked like a fool, gasping like a schoolboy.
"She's awake! Come, Mr Riddle. Let's go find out who our impromptu guest is!" Professor Dippet said gleefully as he patted Tom on the back and led him out of the office.
Halfway to the Hospital Wing, they met Professor Dumbledore.
"Headmaster. Mr Riddle. Where are you off to in such a hurry?" Professor Dumbledore asked, narrowing his eyes at Tom.
"The girl is awake, Albus!" Dippet said excitedly.
"Indeed?" Dumbledore asked.
"She is, sir," Tom said. He was itching to get back to the infirmary. Who knew what she was saying to Madam Davies?
"Well, by all means, we should go see her then," Professor Dumbledore said as he gestured for the others to lead the way.
Tom rolled his eyes. Of course, Busybody Dumbledore had to join them to see Avens. Dumbledore was the only professor who didn't outright adore Tom, in fact, Tom was positive that Professor Dumbledore loathed him. And that irked Tom to no end. He was used to the adults in his life loving him and being easily manipulatable, but Professor Dumbledore was not like the rest of the adults. He had a heavy suspicion of all Slytherins, and of Tom in particular.
They entered the Hospital Wing to find the curtain around the girl's bed pushed to the side and Madam Davies offering potions and casting charms at the same time.
"Madam Davies, when you are finished, may we speak with our guest?" Headmaster Dippet asked.
"Of course, Headmaster," Madam Davies replied in what was probably her kindest tone though it still sounded like she was snapping at them. Tom didn't think Madam Davies was equipped to like anyone.
Madam Davies finished after only a few more minutes but stayed close to the patient.
"Let's keep it short, gentlemen," Madam Davies instructed.
"Of course, madam," Dippet said with a small smile.
Dippet approached the bed and waved Tom and Dumbledore closer.
Avens looked confused as she saw Dippet approaching. She stiffened when she caught Tom's eye, and when she saw Professor Dumbledore, she clutched at her chest. Tom could see she was wearing some sort of necklace, but he couldn't quite see what it was.
"Hello, I'm Headmaster Dippet. Who might you be?"
"H-Hermione Granger," the girl replied. Her voice was less hoarse now but still shaky.
"Well, Miss Granger, what are you doing at Hogwarts?"
"I-I'm not sure. I don't remember much."
"May I introduce Professor Dumbledore and Tom Riddle. Tom found you, my dear," Dippet explained.
At hearing Tom's name, Granger's eyes closed, and she began to shake and sob.
"No, it can't be, not him," she muttered.
Tom was sure he didn't know her? Why did she fear him so? He had done nothing but help her.
"Out! Mr Riddle, out of the Hospital Wing. I won't have you upsetting my patients!" Madam Davies shouted and pointed toward the door.
When Tom didn't move fast enough, Davies began shooing him out with her hands. He stuffed his Ancient Runes homework in his bag and left.
Who was she? This Hermione Granger? It didn't ring any bells. He knew he didn't know her. But she knew him. She knew enough to be scared of him. Why? How?
Tom didn't know, but he was going to find out.
Chapter 2: The Discovery
June 16, 1944
Hermione Granger came to slowly.
She was aware of a slight glow above her head, and when she opened her eyes, she could see diagnostic charms hovering above her bed. Blearily, she looked around, trying to make out where she was—it looked an awful lot like the Hogwarts Hospital Wing. But the last thing she remembered was the Killing Curse flying at her chest. Logically, she knew she should be dead. Maybe she was. This would be a very strange afterlife if that was the case. Blinking slowly, she tried to get the room around her to come into focus. She attempted to move her head but gasped when the pain hit. Pain meant that she was alive. How was she not dead?
Suddenly, her blurry vision was filled with a dark-haired boy. At first, she thought it was Harry. But that couldn't be right: Harry was dead. She'd watched him die at Voldemort's hand.
She blinked up at the boy, and he slowly came into focus. No, he wasn't Harry; although, he did look familiar. This boy's hair was much neater than Harry's had ever been. And his eyes weren't brilliant green but a deep blue. So blue they almost looked black. He had a long straight nose and perfect eyebrows, the kind that arched in the middle. His lips were full, and dimly Hermione wondered what it would be like to kiss them.
The boy smirked, and his handsomeness was revealed in full. He was gorgeous. Perhaps the most handsome boy Hermione had ever seen. But at the same moment he spoke, she remembered who he was.
"Tom Riddle, at your service," he nodded at her.
At that, she remembered exactly what had happened to her. Lord Voldemort had cast the killing curse at her. Was she in hell? And no sooner had that thought crossed her mind that her vision went black.
Hermione crawled along the stands where the teachers were sitting, doing her best to keep one eye on Harry, who was barely hanging onto his broom. She didn't know how he had been able to hang on as long as this. It seemed to take her ages to run from the Gryffindor stands to the professors' box. Professor Snape was still staring at Harry, muttering under his breath.
Hermione frowned. She would have to do something drastic. But what?
Then she remembered the bluebell flames, she could conjure those with nothing more than a whisper. Professor Flitwick had said she had a fire affinity after she'd asked him about it. The last thing she needed would be to get caught by the sour Potions master.
"Velox Ignis," she muttered under her breath and was happy to see the flames appear in her hands.
She liberally spread her hands all over the bottom of Professor Snape's robes, blowing on the flames, encouraging them to grow higher. When they did, she pulled her hands back and extinguished the flame in her hands.
Slowly, Hermione made her way back through the crowd, still trying to keep her eye on both Harry and Professor Snape. It didn't take Professor Snape long to realize his robes were on fire. He yelped and knocked into Professor Quirrell who was sitting in front of him as he tried to put out the flames.
As soon as Professor Snape broke eye contact, Harry was able to recover his broom. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and made her way back to the Gryffindor stands.
Hermione gasped as she came out of the flashback. She had a very strong suspicion about what had just happened, but before she could analyze it, a mediwitch was in her face, running diagnostics and casting spells at her.
Hermione's head was too muddled to really understand what was going on, but she drank whatever potions the mediwitch gave her and concentrated on staying conscious. She didn't want to be vulnerable in front of the future Dark Lord.
The future Dark Lord?
That thought wasn't right. Lord Voldemort was no longer Tom Riddle. But then... who was that boy? Was it a prank? She reached a hand to the Time-Turner she always wore around her neck. But it didn't feel right, she tried to move her head to look at it, but the mediwitch tsked at her and told her not to move.
Hermione closed her eyes as she felt the Time-Turner. Most Time-Turners had an hourglass at the center, surrounded by three concentric rings that turned independently of each other. The hourglass seemed to be intact, but the rest of the Time-Turner felt as if it had melted together. Her thoughts raced.
Is that what happened?
The Avada Kedavra that Voldemort had sent her way had hit the Time-Turner?
Did that mean she was in the past?
She gasped at the realization, and when she opened her eyes, the doors to the Hospital Wing followed suit. Two older men and Tom Riddle were heading right for her.
The mediwitch was still working and Hermione could hear her speaking with one of the men. Hermione hoped against all hope that she hadn't actually been thrown back in time. That she was actually dead and this was just a strange afterlife. Purgatory maybe.
She watched as the three men approached her, and she recognized one of them. It was Professor Dumbledore. Her heart hurt to see him alive again and looking so young. This had to be the afterlife, it just had to be. His hair was as long as it had been in her time, but it wasn't white, it was a deep auburn streaked with grey.
"Hello, I'm Headmaster Dippet. Who might you be?" the older of the two gentlemen introduced himself. He had short salt and pepper hair and a neatly kept goatee. He was wearing gold-rimmed glasses connected to a chain that went around his neck, and he had kind, light-green eyes. Hermione liked him immediately; he exuded a warmth and kindness that not many people did.
"H-Hermione Granger," she croaked out. Her voice sounded rusty and disused. The mediwitch conjured a glass of water and handed it to her. She drank it greedily.
"Well, Miss Granger, what are you doing at Hogwarts?" the kindly headmaster asked.
"I - I'm not sure. I don't remember much."
"This is Professor Dumbledore, and this is Tom Riddle. He found you, my dear." Professor Dippet indicated the young boy.
"No, it can't be, not him," Hermione mumbled. She closed her eyes, she didn't want to look evil personified in the face. She just wanted to rest. Her hopes of being dead were dashed. It couldn't be the afterlife if Tom Riddle was here. As far as Hermione knew, Voldemort was alive. He'd been the one to kill her. And if Voldemort was alive, then Hermione wasn't dead; she had been thrown back in the past. She began pushing at the covers on the bed and trying to get away from them all. She couldn't be here. She shouldn't be here. This was all wrong. She had to get back to her own time. Even if that time was a world ruled by Voldemort.
"Out! Mr. Riddle, out of the Hospital Wing. I won't have you upsetting my patient!" the mediwitch shouted and pointed toward the door.
Headmaster Dippet patted Hermione's hand as Riddle left the ward, and Hermione relaxed back into the bed. Her attempts at getting out of bed had made her head pound and her stomach threatened to expel its contents. Even if she wanted to leave, it seemed she wasn't going to be able to anytime soon.
"Well, dear, now that you are calmer, perhaps we can have a frank discussion about how you came to be on Hogwarts grounds," Professor Dippet said. He waved his wand and conjured two squishy purple-plaid armchairs, and he and Professor Dumbledore each settled in one.
"I'm not entirely sure. But I think it has something to do with this," Hermione held up the melted Time-Turner.
"Oh dear," Professor Dumbledore murmured, speaking for the first time. "Is that a Time-Turner?" He peered closely at the twisted piece of jewelry Hermione held aloft.
Hermione nodded glumly. "I don't think it will work again."
"Time-Turners don't work going forward. At least not in 1944," Professor Dumbledore explained.
"They don't in 1998 either," Hermione said.
"Oh, my, that is a far jump. Do you think you can tell us about it?" Headmaster Dippet asked.
Hermione was tiring rather quickly and shook her head. Her eyes threatened to slip closed. She wasn't sure she could handle the emotions of the last twenty-four hours of her life. Both of her best friends were dead, killed in battle. And now, she was stuck fifty-four years in the past.
"Perhaps I could take a look then? I'm quite a skilled Legilimens," Professor Dippet asked. "I taught Professor Dumbledore everything he knows." Professor Dippet smirked at the younger man.
Hermione thought about it for a moment. She realized she trusted Professor Dumbledore, and a strange feeling told her she could trust Professor Dippet too. So she nodded.
The Headmaster stood from his chair and leaned over her bed, looking her straight in the eyes. "Legilimens," he muttered.
Hermione barely noticed his presence. She began thinking about everything that happened to her over the last few months: being on the run with Harry and Ron, hunting Horcruxes, her torture at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange, and finally, the failed final battle at Hogwarts itself.
Just as quickly as he entered, Professor Dippet left her mind. He patted her shoulder gently, and Hermione realized she had tears streaming down her cheeks.
"There, there, dear. Can you tell me who Lord Voldemort is?" Professor Dippet asked.
Hermione shook her head. She couldn't. She didn't want to mess up the timeline, didn't want to ruin the world.
"Terrible things happen to wizards who meddle with time," Hermione said. "I don't want to give you too much information."
"Ah, that is true," Professor Dumbledore nodded. He too stood from his chair and approached her bed.
"However, I think in this case it is probably different."
"How do you mean?" Hermione asked.
"Nobody has gone back in time by fifty-four years. The most anyone has ever traveled back in time was fifteen hours."
"I see," Hermione said.
Time-Turners were causal loops. Nothing anyone did in the past, would change the future because the future was already set. Anything a time traveler did in the past was going to happen anyway. It was set. It was kind of like fate in that way.
Did that mean that she wasn't in a causal loop? There were a few theories on time travel. After Hermione had been given the Time-Turner in her third year, she had looked them all up. Wizards had one, the causal loop because that's the only case they had with the Time-Turner. So Hermione had asked her parents for a few Muggle books on the fabric of spacetime, physics, and time travel theories. She knew about wormholes and black holes and the multiverse theory. She knew them all. But how to determine what happened here? She didn't know.
"Well, that does beg the other question, Miss Granger," Professor Dippet said gently, bringing Hermione out of her thoughts and back to the present.
"Which question is that?" Hermione asked.
"How did you survive the Killing Curse?" Professor Dippet asked.
"Oh," Hermione nodded. She had a few theories about that too. While on the run with Ron and Harry, she had packed every book she thought might be worth taking and then some. Several of those books had to do with life debts, which Hermione had been particularly fascinated by.
When she had first heard of life debts in the wizarding world, she thought it was something one had to invoke, or acknowledge, or maybe even manufacture. She'd heard Harry talk about the life debt Professor Snape owed James Potter, and that's what started her research. How did Professor Snape know he owed a life debt? Did he acknowledge it? What happened if you didn't acknowledge a life debt? Hermione had wanted to know it all.
"What do you know of life debts?" Hermione asked Professor Dippet.
"Quite a bit, actually. Is that why you are alive?"
"I think so. When I awoke, I had a flashback to when I saved my best friend's life in our first year. I think that was me using up that life debt."
"That would mean…" Professor Dumbledore trailed off.
"Yes, my best friend is dead. I watched him be killed. He was killed by Lord Voldemort," Hermione explained. "I can't say too much, but there was a war in the wizarding world. It was during a great battle, and well, my side was losing. Did lose? Will lose?" Hermione shook her head. It was confusing, especially if she didn't know if this was causal loop or multiverse or some other sort of time travel.
"I'm sorry to hear that, my dear," Professor Dippet said and patted her hand. "I am familiar with the concept. I myself am three hundred and seven years of age," the Headmaster winked at her, and Hermione was confused. Was he telling her what she thought he was? But then she shook her head. Maybe he was just very healthy to have lived for so long.
"Well, the poor girl can't go home," Professor Dumbledore said to Professor Dippet. "Were you in school?"
"I skipped my seventh year," Hermione admitted. At the time she hadn't been ashamed but standing here between these two great professors, she felt her cheeks heat with embarrassment.
"No matter," Professor Dippet said. "It sounds like you had quite enough going on. The school year is almost over, and Madam Davies assures me you will need bed rest for several more weeks. You can start your seventh year at the beginning of the term in September."
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked. She didn't want to put anyone out. And she had nothing but her bedraggled beaded bag. While it did hold a lot, she had practically no money to speak of.
"I won't cut your education short. It's very important, my dear," Professor Dippet assured her. "You just rest now. I'll take care of it all."
He waved Professor Dumbledore forward, and the two men left in quiet conversation.
Madam Davies, the mediwitch, Hermione learnt from her recent conversation, cast another diagnostic charm to hover over Hermione.
"I'll just be in my office, Miss Granger. You should sleep."
Hermione nodded. She was very tired. The potions made her groggy, and her head hurt quite a bit. But after the conversation and the realization she may be stuck in the past, she wasn't sure she could sleep.
She thought back about everything she knew about life debts. They weren't created by the acknowledgment or the acknowledgment of a life debt, magic decided if a life debt should be created, which was such a foreign concept to Hermione. Her parents weren't particularly religious, but the way the books had talked about magic was like it wasn't this wonderful, mindless force, but that it was sentient. Like it was a god. And that it could choose things and decide things. It had taken her a few rereads of certain passages for her to truly understand.
If someone owed a life debt and did not acknowledge that life debt, then died, the person who was owed the debt gained an extra soul, an Anamoran, as the book had called it. It explained everything about how Hermione was alive. She had saved Harry's life back in first year. It was all in the intent. Hermione had intended to save Harry, and so when she did, Harry owed her a life debt, a life debt that Harry had never acknowledged. Hermione hadn't either. She hadn't even known about life debts then. And then, Harry had died. Which gave Hermione Anamoran, or extra soul. It didn't feel any different, but it explained how she survived the killing curse. Instead of killing her, it killed the Anamoran.
It was fascinating, and Hermione really wanted to dig through her beaded bag to reread some of those texts. It had all been theory up until now, but now she had proof. At least, proof to her. She should have died. Voldemort should have killed her, but she hadn't. Because of the Anamoran.
There was a potion she could brew to see how much Anamoran she had. And Hermione had brewed it while on the run, which had been a feat in and of itself. Luckily, most of the potion consisted of easily found herbs. She finished it just before they were captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. And from there, things had happened so fast.
The potion was still in her beaded bag. The bag had to be a mess by now; she hadn't been cleaning it or storing anything in it properly. She glanced around, suddenly frantic. Where was her bag? Had it gotten lost somehow? Had someone here stolen it?
Sighing in relief, she found her bag and clothes on the bottom shelf of the small table beside her bed. Her clothes were folded and even looked clean. On top of the table, sat her wand. As much as she wanted to investigate things more, a wave of exhaustion came over her. She did fling her arm out, intent on grabbing her beaded bag, but she was asleep before her hand hit the top of the bedside table.
Chapter 3: The Ring
June 16, 1944
Tom did not leave the Hospital Wing after Madam Davies banished him, not entirely anyway. He slid out the door, but before it closed all the way, he stopped it with his foot and stuck his ear in the crack between the doors. He cast Disillusionment and Notice-Me-Not Charms on himself and an Amplification Charm on the far end of the hospital ward.
"Is that a Time-Turner?" he heard Professor Dumbledore ask.
Merlin, a Time-Turner, Tom thought. Those were highly controlled by the Ministry. They were quite popular among the upper echelons of society, but when the Ministry caught word of them, they had confiscated every single one of them as dangerous magical artefacts.
"They don't in 1998 either," the girl, Hermione Granger, said.
Tom gasped, just barely managing to keep quiet. Incredible, Avens was from fifty-four years in the future she could be unbelievably useful to him. He just needed to figure out the best way to do what he could to keep close to her. He still had a year of school left, and she looked to be his age. But what if Avens was finished with school already? He vowed right then and there that he would do whatever he had to in order to keep her close.
"Can you tell me who Lord Voldemort is?" Professor Dippet asked after he finished his Legilimency.
Tom's next gasp was louder. Not only was Avens from the future, she either knew him or knew of him in the future. His plan was set. He would use whatever means necessary to get close to her. Avens would be invaluable to his future.
Tom let the door close. Nothing else Avens had to say was nearly as important as the fact that she knew who he was, and from 1998, that was fifty-four years from now. He wondered if he was famous in the future, and that's how she knew him. Or if he and she were...colleagues. He would have to ponder it.
Tom was a little surprised Avens had acquiesced so easily to the Legilimency by Dippet. Maybe she knew Dippet in the future too. Tom had been taking his own lessons from Professor Dippet for the last two years, learning Legilimency and Occlumency. Tom wasn't nearly as skilled as Professor Dippet, but he was getting better. One day, he would surpass him; he was sure.
There was a lot to think about: Avens was from the future, sent back impossibly far into the past via Time-Turner. Tom didn't know that much about Time-Turners, but he was sure they only went back a couple of hours at the most. So how did she get here? And could she find her way back? That was the only part that worried Tom. He was confident in his ability to charm any witch, but if she figured out a way to go back, then Tom would be lost. He would just have to find out as much as he could from her before she figured anything out. Or stop her if he could.
A quick glance at his watch told him it was almost dinner time. He made for the Great Hall with a spring in his step. Things kept looking up for him, and he couldn't wait to speak with Avens alone tomorrow.
June 17, 1944
Tom stopped by the Hospital Wing during his only free period the following day. It was right before dinner and Avens was asleep in her bed, much as she had been for the last two weeks.
He settled in to get some work done on his Ancient Runes assignment, one of his favorite subjects. It could be tedious, but this year, they had begun studying the effects of using Runes in spell casting. Using the right Runes could make wards nigh unbreakable and made rituals and spells that much stronger.
Tom had recently made himself a signet ring that he'd carved the Ansuz rune into. He added a small compulsion charm on the ring, and he found that his Knights listened so much better than before. Ansuzwas the rune that gave power to words. Tom was pleased with his experiment so far and had begun designing a few others.
"What are you doing here?" Avens asked.
Tom had been so lost in his homework he hadn't even known she'd woken up. He glanced up to see her eyes burning with fury. He cocked his head to the side, considering her.
"Why do you hate me?" Tom asked.
"Madam Davies!" Avens called out.
"You didn't have to do that," Tom hissed as he began packing up his things.
He wasn't stupid; he knew what was coming.
"Mr Riddle," Madam Davies snapped as she rounded the curtain and spotted him. "I have told you to stay out of my Hospital Wing and away from Miss Granger. I must insist you leave at once."
"Of course, Madam Davies," Tom replied, smiling softly, exuding every ounce of charm he possessed. "Please forgive me. I only worry how Miss Granger is doing. I don't mean to disturb anyone."
Madam Davies sniffed and pointed toward the door. She was like Dumbledore in that way; she rarely fell for his charm.
Tom slung his bag over his shoulder, and with one last look at the girl in the hospital bed, he left the ward.
He wasn't going to let Madam Davies keep him away from her. He didn't care if Avens didn't want him nearby. After what he had learnt yesterday, there was no way he was letting her go. He would recruit her to his side, seduce her, kidnap her, whatever he had to, in order to learn the secrets of his future.
Tom was kicked out of the infirmary every day for a week before he decided he needed to take a different approach. Avens slept a lot. Almost every time Tom went to visit her, despite the time of day, she was asleep. But inevitably she woke up and called for Madam Davies. Tom never got more than a sentence or two with her. He wasn't giving up, though.
June 24, 1944
It was Saturday morning when Tom visited the Headmaster. He gave the gargoyle the password and climbed the stairs as they ascended upward.
Headmaster Dippet kept a rather neat office. He didn't have many knick-knacks on the shelves around the room, and all the parchment on his desk was sorted into tidy piles.
"Tom, what can I do for you, my boy?" Dippet asked with a smile upon seeing who arrived.
Tom returned his smile. "Headmaster Dippet, thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
"Not at all, not at all. Happy to meet with any student. Is something troubling you?"
"Well, only a little. I found Miss Granger, you remember?" Tom asked.
"I do. Quite harrowing, it was at the time, I believe."
"It was, and I'm worried about the poor girl. She showed up at Hogwarts with nothing but the clothes on her back and her wand. I've been trying to visit her in the Hospital Wing, but Madam Davies doesn't like me much." Tom lowered his head as though the thought of Madam Davies disliking him was rather devastating. It wasn't. He didn't care what that old hag thought.
"Oh, dear. You are such a sweet, sensitive boy, Tom," Dippet said. "Always so caring of your fellow students."
"It's from growing up in the orphanage, sir. You learn a lot about what children without their parents need."
Headmaster Dippet tsked sadly, and Tom knew he had him. Talking about the orphanage with any adult was usually the key to getting Tom whatever he wanted. This time was no exception.
"Well, then let's just head down to the Hospital Wing and have a visit with Miss Granger. I haven't had a chance to speak with her all week," Headmaster Dippet said and rose from his desk.
Tom hid the smirk that threatened to break out on his face as he too rose from his seat and followed the Headmaster.
The walk to the Hospital Wing was long, but the Headmaster kept the silence filled by asking Tom about his classes. Tom was taking a fairly heavy load, and on top of that, he had his prefect duties.
"It has been an uneventful year, so far. Apart from Miss Granger falling into our laps, we've had a much quieter year than last," Headmaster Dippet commented.
"Nasty business about that poor Ravenclaw girl last year," Tom said sadly. He wasn't sad at all about that, it had afforded him the opportunity to make his first Horcrux.
"Indeed, I'm just glad it's all over with now," Professor Dippet said.
Tom just nodded since they had arrived at the Hospital Wing.
Quidditch was over for the year, so the wing was fairly empty. Madam Davies was tending to a firstie with an upset stomach, so Headmaster Dippet just waved at her and guided Tom toward the back and the curtain that was still set up around Avens' bed.
For once, she was awake, and she greeted Headmaster Dippet quite warmly.
"It's good to see you, Headmaster Dippet!" the girl effused.
"And you, my dear girl, and you. Apologies for not getting down here sooner to visit, but I've been arranging all your paperwork."
"Think nothing of it." Granger smiled brightly until she caught Tom's eye.
"Riddle," she greeted coldly.
"My dear, Miss Granger, I fear you and Mr Riddle got off on the wrong foot. He saved you, you see," Headmaster Dippet grinned as he ushered Tom forward.
Tom smiled at the girl softly, not wishing to scare her away.
"I see," she snapped.
"Now, now, Miss Granger —"
"I'm feeling rather tired," Granger cut the headmaster off.
"Of course, of course! We should let you rest. Come along, Tom," Headmaster Dippet smiled warmly and patted Granger's hand.
Tom also smiled, and when he reached out to also pat her hand, she snatched it away, cradling it to her chest. Tom gave her a considering look. Every time he interacted with her, she gave him more information about her knowledge of his future. She didn't just dislike him, she was bloody terrified of him. Tom wanted to know why. Was Lord Voldemort terrifying in the future? Tom could only hope. A thrill ran through him when he thought about all of wizarding Britain reacting to him the way Avens did.
June 30, 1944
School ended without Avens leaving the Hospital Wing. Tom still visited her every day, and every day Madam Davies would kick him out. But Avens was fascinating, and he quite thought he was probably wearing her down with his presence. Tom hoped so.
The only good thing about going back to the orphanage over the summer was that now the younger kids were so terrified of him, they stayed out of his way. The older kids knew what happened when Tom got upset. They were quite happy to leave him alone.
The staff was very similar; as long as he didn't break too many rules, they didn't much care what he did. That certainly made things easier for Tom. He had finally tracked down not only his father and his family but where his mother lived when she was alive. He planned to go there. Maybe he would find something, but if nothing else, he would be paying his Muggle father a visit.
August 5, 1944
He didn't get the chance until the first weekend in August. He had to time it right so he could be away from the orphanage overnight. A few hours here or there, Mrs Cole didn't much care for boys who were Tom's age. The other boys mostly cavorted around with the working girls who flooded their neighborhood. The orphanage was rather close to several Muggle factories that operated all day and night. Tom much preferred the women he could find in Knockturn Alley, instead of the Muggle ones, but it was always a good excuse for Mrs Cole.
Mrs Cole was visiting her sister the first weekend in August and leaving Miss Janes in charge. Miss Janes was a pushover, and Tom was happy that it worked out he could be away from London overnight if he had to. He waited until after Mrs Cole left, then he too left, taking a train from London to the village of Little Hangleton in Yorkshire. His mother's family property was located near the woods, but he didn't know exactly where. However, he was confident it would be fairly easy to find. It was probably one of the few magical dwellings in the area. He left the train station in Little Hangleton and headed for the wooded area that bordered the northwest side of the small village.
Tom had gone to a Muggle library and done some research on the town. It was one of the ways he was able to figure out who his father actually was. Tom Riddle Senior was the son of a very minor baronet in the English aristocracy. Tom had snorted when he read it. At least he had that going for him, part of the aristocracy. If he had to be related to Muggles at least they were society Muggles. He wondered if his father ever remarried. But he hadn't been able to find out any information about it.
Casting a low-level magic detection charm, Tom waved his wand in a slow circle about waist high. He wanted to see if he could pick up on where his mother's cottage would be. Tom knew that he his mother's brother was still alive. If his uncle wasn't rotting in Azkaban, as he'd done at least one minor sentence before Tom was born. Tom wasn't sure of the details of that sentence though, the Daily Prophet article he had read didn't specify beyond Muggle-baiting.
The charm dinged toward Tom's right, west of where he was currently standing. Luckily, it wasn't a dense wood and was rather easy to navigate. He soon came upon a very dilapidated cottage, more of a shack really. He cast the magic detection charm again and found that the cottage that was setting it off. Tom sighed in disappointment. He'd known the Gaunt family had fallen in recent years, but he hadn't been aware of just how far. They were the heirs of Slytherin and living like paupers. As he approached the cabin, he could see something was nailed to the door. When he got closer, he saw it was a dead snake. Tom frowned. He liked snakes; he always had. They were fairly friendly and didn't want much.
Tom knocked on the door.
"Go 'way!" a shout from inside came.
Tom frowned again and knocked harder.
"I said, 'go 'way!'"
The voice was louder and closer, so Tom knocked once more.
"For fuck's sake."
The door flew open, and Tom came face-to-face with a short, stocky man, who looked as if he hadn't bathed in weeks.
"What're you doing 'ere?" the man asked Tom.
"Who are you?" Tom asked right back.
"Can't ask me that. Knocked on my door, didn't yeh?"
"This the Gaunt Cottage?"
"More like Gaunt Shack," the man growled. "What're you doing here? My sister's dead."
"I know. I'm her son," Tom replied.
"I thought you was that Muggle. You look a mighty deal like him."
The man glanced up and down at him, and Tom felt embarrassed even though it should be the man who was embarrassed, not Tom. Tom was at least clean and neat in his appearance. The man had so much hair that Tom hadn't even got a good look at his eyes.
"That Muggle my sister took a fancy to. Lives in the Riddle House, big house over the way. You look right like him, like Riddle. But he's older now, in 'e? He's older'n you, now I think on it… he come back, see."
Tom nodded his understanding. He did see: this man was his uncle. Tom looked at him in disgust.
"Well, I'm not him. I'm your sister's son, your nephew," Tom said coldly.
"Ain't no nephew of mine. Son of a filthy Muggle you are." The man spat, very nearly on Tom's shoes.
"Legilimens," Tom muttered and delved into his mind. Morfin Gaunt, that's what his name was. A disgusting little man, who cared very deeply about the purity of his blood and not much else. Tom tore himself from the man's mind, not even bothered by the pain he caused. Morfin might actually be very useful.
Tom left the shack in disgust. He didn't want to be related to a man like Morfin; even if he was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, he was a wretch.
Tom made his way back into the village of Little Hangleton, looking for the big house. He couldn't miss it. It was rather large, almost as large as Malfoy Manor. Wouldn't Abraxas laugh at seeing Tom set up in a house this large. It had taken Tom a long time to get Abraxas as one of his followers. Malfoy came into Slytherin thinking he'd own the place due to his name. Tom decided he'd own the place due to his power and later because of his heritage. Opening the Chamber had been the nail in Malfoy's coffin as leader of Slytherin. Tom had them all very firmly in his camp since he'd brought them down to meet his pet Basilisk.
Tom walked the winding path from the road to the front door of Riddle House. He knocked on the door, and a man in a butler's uniform answered.
"May I help you?" the man asked.
"I'd like to see Tom Riddle," Tom told the man with as much imperiousness as he could manage.
The man sniffed. "Is he expecting you?"
"Imperio," Tom hissed and bade the man bring him to where his father was.
"Mr Riddle, I have a Mr Riddle here to see you," the butler said once he had shown Tom into a study.
Tom entered the study properly and found three people, instead of the one.
"Is this him?" the woman asked as she approached Tom. "Are you Merope's boy?" she asked him.
"Oh, of course, you are!" the woman exclaimed and threw her arms around Tom's middle. She was quite a bit shorter than Tom, and he hadn't been expecting her to touch him. He rocked back on his heels for a moment, but his arms were trapped by hers. She held him in a fierce hug.
"Really, Mary. You don't even know the boy," the older man said.
"Look at him, Thomas! He's a spitting image of Tom!" the woman said, the side of her face pressed against Tom's chest. He was getting more and more uncomfortable the longer she held him.
Tom looked at the other two men in the room: they both looked like him. The oldest had dark grey hair and the same deep blue eyes Tom had. The younger one was still quite a bit older than Tom, but he had the same facial features as Tom. It was like looking into an aging mirror. Tom could see what he would look like when he was in his forties.
The woman, Mary, took a step back and beamed at him, her hands holding onto his elbows.
"I've been looking for you for years," she told him.
"He's a freak just like his mother!" the younger man shouted.
"A freak?" Tom asked, his anger building inside him. He hated that word. That's the word all the kids in the orphanage had called Tom before he taught them to be afraid of him.
"Yes! A freak who does freaky things with that little stick. She poisoned me!" The younger man was so angry now that he was spitting as he spoke.
"I am not a freak!" Tom shouted and pulled out his wand. He pointed it at the man that had to be his father. "Take it back!"
"I'm not afraid of you," the man spat.
"You should be. I can make fire run in your veins, make it feel as if all your bones were breaking, make you want to die. And when I'm done, not a mark will be on you," Tom threatened darkly.
"No, you can't. Merope couldn't do those sorts of things."
"Merope didn't attend Hogwarts," Tom said. He still had his wand pointed at him. "Are you my father?"
"I must be, but it was against my will. I wouldn't have touched that… that… thing!"
"Shut up!" Tom screamed. "You are nothing but a filthy Muggle! I am worth ten of you."
"She drugged me! She poisoned me! For months! If you are anything like her, you are a foul, loathsome creature who should be killed off! All of your kind should be killed off!"
"Avada Kedavra," Tom said coldly, but he was horrified when Mary pushed away from him and stepped in front of the curse without a word even being spoken.
"No!" Tom shouted as the sickly green light hit the only person who had ever wanted him.
She crumpled to the floor, and all three men in the room stared in shock as she gazed at the ceiling with unseeing eyes.
"Murderer!" Thomas shouted. "You killed my wife! I'll have you hang for that!"
Tom turned to him. "Avada Kedavra."
Thomas too crumpled to the ground. Tom turned his wand back to his father.
"Going to kill me too, boy?" his father taunted.
"You are going to help me live forever," Tom replied. "Avada Kedavra."
Tom Senior fell to the floor with a dull thud. The butler entered the room at that moment.
"Is everything… What happened?" The butler looked at Tom with scared eyes.
Tom felt sick. He didn't want to kill anyone else.
"Obliviate," Tom muttered, and then with a gentleImperius Curse, he sent the butler to hide in the kitchen with any other servants he came across.
Morfin was going to come in handy after all. Tom spun to his left and Apparated back to the Gaunt Shack.
Before he pounded on the door, he could hear Morfin singing in Parseltongue, "Hissy, hissy, little snakey. Slither on the floor. You be good to Morfin. Or he'll nail you to the door."
He pounded on the door, and when his uncle didn't answer, Tom blasted the door open. Morfin sat on a chair with a small circle of snakes around him.
"You!" his uncle shouted, trying to rise from his chair.
"Me," Tom drawled his wand pointing directly at his uncle's head. He cast an Obliviate and then a Legilimens, giving Morfin the memories Tom had of killing all three Riddles. He glanced down at Morfin's hand and found a ring on his right ring finger. Tom pried it off and turned it over. It had a black stone in the center. The stone had a marking inscribed on it. A triangle bisected by a vertical line. A circle was inside the triangle. He had never seen a symbol like that before. He would have to check his research on Slytherin and see if there was anything about a ring. It would do; it looked valuable enough.
He Apparated back to the study at Riddle House and began casting the cleansing ritual on the ring. Once that was finished, he closed his eyes and found his soul deep within him. He felt along the edges of it: it was smooth, warm, and… rough? That must have been the first rip from back when he made the diary a Horcrux. It was discordant but smoothed over, not like a true rip, more like a wound. He kept going, there it was the throb of a tear.
He directed his magic at that tear and began forcing it between the two bits of his soul. He pushed and shoved with his magic while his soul fought to not be torn, to not split into two. When he finally felt that last wrench, his body collapsed onto the ground. He panted for a moment and opened his eyes.
A small pearlescent wisp hovered in front of his wand, and he began directing it into the ring lying on the carpet in front of him. The ring accepted the soul piece greedily like it was hungry for it, and Tom thought that was curious. The diary had fought him when he'd tried to shove his soul inside it. He would have to study the ring at a later date.
Chapter 4: Staying
July 7, 1944
Hermione was finally released from the Hospital Wing a week after school had ended. Headmaster Dippet kept saying she would be starting the school year in the fall, which was alright for now. But Hermione was much more interested in trying to find a way back to 1998, sooner rather than later. Even if going back to her own time meant living under Voldemort's thumb, at least she knew people in the future. Here almost everybody was a stranger; even her own parents hadn't been born yet.
She pondered her options. Beginning school next year would give her access to Professor Dumbledore, the only person she did know in this time. That had to be the right answer: attend Hogwarts. It would also give her access to the library, which she desperately needed.
But what about the summer? Headmaster Dippet wasn't going to let her stay at Hogwarts over the summer. He hadn't let Tom Riddle stay, despite knowing he was going back to a Muggle orphanage. Should she appeal to Professor Dumbledore? She would have to track him down before she was kicked out of Hogwarts. She hadn't had a chance to speak privately with him. She needed to know what to do. Was it ever going to be possible to go forward in time?
Madam Davies swept the curtain aside. Hermione had just finished dressing in the clothes she'd arrived in. They had been cleaned and repaired but were horribly out of place. Shopping would have to be one of the first things she did. She dug through her beaded bag as Madam Davies cast yet another diagnostic charm over her.
Hermione had her arm in the bag up to her shoulder when Headmaster Dippet also arrived. Hermione found what she was looking for and pulled out her old school robes. She slipped it over her head, hiding her Muggle clothes completely.
"Much better, Miss Granger," Headmaster Dippet said in approval. "Would you follow me?"
Hermione nodded and stood from the bed.
"Alright," Madam Davies said. "I pronounce her ready to face the world once more. I don't want to see you back here for a long while," Madam Davies scolded. She reminded Hermione so much of Madam Pomfrey, at that moment, that she felt a lump form in her throat. It hadn't really hit her until this moment, but she was horrifically homesick.
She blinked back her tears as she followed the headmaster out of the Hospital Wing. As they headed toward the grand staircase, she thought that he was escorting her from the premises and felt a moment of panic. But then he headed up the stairs, and Hermione breathed a small sigh of relief. She was still weak from laying unmoving in a bed for so many weeks that she soon lagged behind.
He reached the fourth-floor landing and must have said something, but Hermione didn't catch it. She was still on the staircase leading to the third floor and was hoping to get to the third-floor landing before the stair decided to move. She made the landing just as a loud grinding noise rose up and the stair she had been on moved. Hermione paused on the landing, catching her breath as she waited for the next staircase to come her way. She looked up to see the Headmaster frowning down at her. She scowled in return, she couldn't help it that she had trouble catching up with him.
By the time a stair did connect, Hermione was somewhat recovered and stepped onto it. She climbed at a slow and steady pace and was outright panting by the time she reached the fourth floor.
"My dear, Miss Granger, I had no idea you were so weak yet. My apologies, I should have slowed for you," Headmaster Dippet said with a frown.
Hermione waved her hand. "It's fine."
Dippet nodded and climbed the stairs to the fifth floor, much more slowly this time. When they reached the fifth floor, the Headmaster grabbed her elbow and steadied her as she swayed on her feet.
"Just a bit further, Miss Granger," he murmured as he guided her to the gargoyle that guarded his office. He didn't speak a password. The gargoyle must have recognized him because it leapt aside, and the Headmaster led her to the stairs that ascended to his office.
Hermione soon found herself ensconced in a very comfortable armchair in front of the fireplace, and she was thankful for the warmth it provided. It was June but still chilly in Scotland.
"Well, I think it's clear, my dear. I'll have a house-elf fix a room up for you," the Headmaster sighed as he poured her a cuppa. They'd been having tea every few days for weeks now, and he knew exactly how she liked hers: a drop of milk and one sugar.
Hermione accepted the tea thankfully, "Truly? I can stay for the summer? I wasn't sure… I know it's not allowed."
"It's not; however, I think I've found a workaround." he smiled at her congenially and reminded Hermione of her own grandfather, who had passed away when she was eight.
Hermione smiled in return. "I'm glad."
"I'm having the papers drawn up as we speak. Until then, you are free to enjoy the hospitality of Hogwarts."
"Thank you," Hermione responded. "I'd like to speak with Professor Dumbledore at some point if I could. I knew him in the future, you see."
"Of course, I'm sure Albus would be happy to speak with you. Why don't you sit here, and I'll summon him through the fireplace. I want to take a walk anyway, and you two can chat here in my office."
"Oh, that's really too kind of you," Hermione said.
Professor Dippet grinned at her. "Not at all, my dear." He stood from his chair and dropped a handful of Floo powder into the fire.
Hermione leaned her head back and rested her eyes for a moment while she listened to the professors talk. It wasn't long before Professor Dumbledore was also in the Headmaster's office pouring himself his own cup of tea. Hermione waved her wand and warmed her tea as Professor Dippet bid them adieu.
"What can I do for you, Miss Granger?" Professor Dumbledore asked. "I'm told you wanted to speak with me."
"Yes, you see, I know you in my time," Hermione began. She wouldn't tell him that he had died. She bit her lip as the tears threatened once more.
"I see... Well, then I'm sure you have things you want to discuss."
Hermione nodded as she swallowed back her tears. "I want to try and get home. I know this Time-Turner is ruined." She fished the one she still had hanging around her neck out. "But maybe there's another one? Even if I have to make smaller jumps, I need to get back to my own time."
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "I don't think that's possible, Miss Granger."
"Why not?" Hermione asked around the lump in her throat.
"Do you know of Schrödinger?" he asked.
Hermione nodded. "I do." She'd looked up everything she could in regards to time travel. Schrödinger's multiverse theory was a fascinating one.
"He has this equation that seems to suggest—"
"A Many Worlds Interpretation to quantum mechanics," Hermione interrupted. "He theorized that there wasn't one universe but a multiverse with different timelines running simultaneously."
At the look on Professor Dumbledore's face, she blushed. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm quite well versed in the different theories of time travel."
"Well, what you may not know is Schrödinger is a wizard. He ran that same equation through Arithmancy models, and it proved the multiverse theory."
"Proved it?" Hermione asked.
"It explains why we can't make a Time-Turner go back further than five hours. Any person who has gone back in time more than that disappears from their own timeline. Schrödinger is sure that means they are actually hopping universes."
Hermione's eyes widened. "I'm not even in my world." Multiverses were infinite. It would be near impossible to find her way home.
"We could probably try to find some way to prove it to you. Things that may have happened in your timeline may be changed in this one," Professor Dumbledore suggested.
Hermione sat back in her seat, thinking hard. What would she risk if she messed with this timeline? It seemed like a world similar enough to her own.
"Is Grindelwald a problem in this world?" Hermione asked. She wanted to gauge the political climate. She didn't miss the way Professor Dumbledore flinched when she said his name.
"He is," Professor Dumbledore agreed.
"You'll duel him in the summer of 1945," Hermione said. "Everything I know about this timeline matches very closely with my own. Was the Chamber of Secrets opened last year?"
Professor Dumbledore nodded, a frown on his face.
"Tom Riddle did that," Hermione revealed. "Should I change the timeline? Should I try to make a better world?"
"I can't answer that question, Miss Granger."
"I could change it drastically for the better."
"I think that subtle changes are always better than drastic ones," Professor Dumbledore said.
"So I can't go home. And killing Tom Riddle tomorrow would probably be a bad thing." Hermione muttered with a small smile.
"You shouldn't joke about killing a fellow student, Miss Granger," Professor Dumbledore scolded lightly. Hermione didn't miss the slight twitch of his mustache.
"Well, Professor, you're instincts about him are right. I just don't know what to do about him."
"I'm sure it will come to you, Miss Granger. I would discourage you from making any sort of drastic changes to the timeline. You never know how things will play out. Maybe young Mr Riddle prevents an even greater evil from inhabiting our world."
Hermione snorted indelicately into her teacup.
"I'm glad to see your spirits have lifted," Professor Dumbledore said as he set his teacup aside and rose from his seat. "Enjoy your time here as much as you can. It's the only life you'll get to live."
Hermione smiled and thanked him. She settled deeper into the sofa and brought her legs up to lay on it fully. She was suddenly exhausted and fell asleep before Professor Dippet returned from his walk.
August 1, 1944
The workaround that Professor Dippet decided on was claiming guardianship over Hermione. To say she was shocked was an understatement. It was several weeks into the summer and Professor Dippet had been extremely kind, providing Hermione with everything she needed, including her own suite of rooms directly next to his.
"But why?" she had asked when he first announced the scheme.
"Who do you know in this time?" Professor Dippet asked. "From your time before you fell into our laps?"
"Only Professor Dumbledore. I mean, I know of Tom Riddle but definitely not as a friend," Hermione emphasized. She figured, if Professor Dippet wanted to adopt her, she could give him a few minor details of the future.
"There you have it. You have no one. I don't have any children, and by now, I'm too old to have any. This gives me a way to have my own family."
Hermione nodded. "I do appreciate it very much, sir."
"Please, call me Armando when we're alone."
"Thank you, Armando." Hermione grinned. "You must call me Hermione then."
Armando smiled. "I will. Now as a new student, you will need to be placed in a house. You attended Hogwarts in your own time, correct?" At Hermione's nod, he went on, "And what house? Oh, let me guess… Ravenclaw?"
"Gryffindor, actually." Hermione smiled.
"Really? You're very bright, I had just assumed… Well, no matter. The only space we have available is in Slytherin."
"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly—"
"Nonsense! Slytherin is a fine house. And Horace is an excellent Head of House. Tom Riddle, the Head Boy this year, is from Slytherin, as well, and is one of the few people you already know."
"Couldn't I just stay in my rooms here?" Hermione pleaded. She couldn't live in the same house as Tom Riddle; she just couldn't. It would put her in a very dangerous position, one she desperately did not want to be in.
"I can't be seen to make exceptions for my own daughter, now can I?"
"And there's not space in any other house? I'd be happy to even stay with the sixth- or fifth-years, if necessary."
Armando appeared as if he were thinking it over, but then he shook his head. "I'm afraid not. Now don't worry, the Slytherin seventh-years are a fine group. You'll get along with them splendidly."
Hermione knew when she had lost an argument. "Do I, at least, get to keep my rooms here? As my 'home' if you will?"
"Of course, my dear, as long as I'm Headmaster, you'll have rooms here. But I better not find you staying in them," he warned.
Hermione sighed. "No, I'll stay in the dormitory."
"Good, it's settled then. We should go and get your school things today. The year starts in just a few short weeks!"
Hermione nodded. She didn't want to be a Slytherin, but Armando's optimism was infectious. And he was a delightful shopping companion. He had really grown on her these last few weeks, and Hermione was suddenly happy he had decided to proceed with guardianship over her. He'd taken care of all the paperwork, making it seem as though her parents had died on the continent and were of distant relation to him. It had all gone rather smoother than Hermione had expected.
They had a pleasant day in Diagon Alley, and Hermione had been surprised to see many of the same businesses from her own time. Armando had even bought Hermione a Kneazle kitten after Hermione had been admiring a litter of them in the window of the Magical Menagerie. She had protested; Armando had already spent far too much money on Hermione, but he'd insisted.
Hermione was now snuggled into her bed with her little, white kitten lying on her stomach, fast asleep. She hadn't even come up with a name for her yet. Hermione felt like she was terrible about naming things, and this little kitten was nothing like her Crookshanks of the future. Maybe that was a small thing she could change: finding Crookshanks before he languished in the Menagerie alone for years.
"What about Lady?" Hermione asked the Kneazle. She didn't expect an answer, but the Kneazle opened one brilliant blue eye and licked Hermione's hand.
"Alright, Lady it is," Hermione smiled at her new pet.
August 15, 1944
She wasn't looking forward to the start of the new school year. Thankfully, she had talked Armando out of making her ride the train. It was silly to have her leave Hogwarts just to ride a train back. No, she wouldn't have to take the train, and despite her reluctance to be a Slytherin, at least she wouldn't have to be Sorted in front of the whole school. Hermione planned to wait near the Entrance Hall, and as others filed their way in, she would too. That way, she could settle herself at the Slytherin table with little fuss.
Earlier in the day, Hermione had asked Armando about blood status. "I'm Muggleborn," Hermione had explained.
"Well, it is a bit unusual to have a Muggleborn in Slytherin. Granger isn't a pure-blood name either. But then, Dippet isn't pure-blood, either. They'll assume you're a half-blood. Some may look down on you for it, but it won't matter in the long run."
Armando had seemed satisfied with his logic, but Hermione wasn't so sure. She would have to work hard to keep Tom Riddle from finding out she was really a Muggleborn. She wasn't well-trained in Occlumency but had begun taking lessons from Armando, who was an excellent teacher.
"You need to find something that works for you," Armando explained. "A place you are comfortable in. Some choose a house with a million doors that lead nowhere. Others choose a book with blank pages or a library with millions of bookshelves."
Hermione didn't feel like her mind was a library with facts and figures stored away in neat, easily findable spots. She was comfortable in a library, but it didn't feel right. Instead, Hermione thought of the Black Lake. It was always one of her favorite spots to sit and study. If she could be outside, Hermione preferred it.
She sunk all her important memories into the lake. Then when she felt calm and centered, she had Armando try and find them.
He found them immediately.
Armando chuckled at Hermione's petulant expression. "Well, when I entered your mind and found a lake, I knew anything worth knowing would likely be at the bottom of it. It's a fine place to put them, but now, you have to create your defenses. Is the lake high in the mountains and covered with ice? Or is there a sea monster in your lake that can fight off intruders?"
Hermione took Armando's lesson and mulled it over for a few days. Maybe, she could have lots of defenses. She decided that the lake would be in the mountains. And it would be solid ice. And instead of storing her memories at the bottom of the lake, she stored them hidden in an underground cavern, only accessible through the lake. Then, inside the cavern, she placed a sea monster, inspired by the Loch Ness monster, which she'd been obsessed with as a child. On top of the monster, she decided a family of dragons also lived nearby: as backup.
The next time Armando tried to get into Hermione's head, he was met with quite a bit more resistance. But with some wheedling and pleading, he still made it through her defenses.
Hermione had been shocked when they both landed out of her head panting, and hours had gone past.
"Very good, my girl," Armando grinned at her. "The mark of a good Occlumens: you kept me busy for hours."
Hermione returned his grin, happy that her method had worked, at least partially.
"Your defenses are rather good; you just need practice. We should make this weekly once the school year starts," Armando offered.
"I'd really like that," Hermione said happily.
September 1, 1944
On the day of the Sorting Ceremony, Hermione dreaded moving all her things to the Slytherin dormitory, but she did it, knowing Armando would find out if she tried to sneak back to her quarters. After she gathered Lady in her arms, she levitated her trunk behind her through the empty corridors of the school.
At first, it had been rather eerie, living in such a big building that was so empty, but now, Hermione had become so used to it. She knew she'd miss the silence of it all. She hated that she was going from living on her own to sharing a room with nine other girls.
She'd been given the password to the common room earlier in the day by Professor Slughorn, who had invited her to be part of the Slug Club already. Hermione had only accepted because Armando stood behind her beaming.
Entering the Slytherin common room was a little surprising. It was nothing like she had expected. When Harry and Ron had seen it as second-years they had described it as grey, cold, damp with a greenish cast from the lake. But when Hermione stepped inside, it was warm and welcoming. There were two large fireplaces on either side of the room, and sconces littered the walls all the way around. There was a large window that showed right into the lake. It didn't feel gloomy at all. It felt like a good place to curl up with a book. The furniture was made mostly black and dark-brown leather, the kind that had been sat in for years and looked sinfully comfortable. There were lots of tables around, and three huge chandeliers overhead. It looked as inviting as the Gryffindor common room ever did.
Hermione smiled then; she could live with this. Even the stone floor had several large rugs spread over it, allowing students to walk around barefoot as they had in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione set Lady down and went toward the corridor on the right that led toward the girls' rooms. There were no stairs, the common room and the dormitories all on the same level.
Hermione walked down the corridor until she came to the room with 'Seventh' written on a brass plaque next to the door. She opened it to find a truly enormous room for ten girls to share. There were ten, huge beds, much bigger than the beds in Hermione's own time in Gryffindor. Each bed was in a small cubicle that included a desk and an armoire. Hermione was impressed. It was almost like ten small bedrooms inside one large one. At the far end of the room was a massive fireplace with an arrangement of lounge furniture in front of it. This room, too, had a runner and individual rugs in each carrel.
Hermione grinned. This felt very much like home and much more private than the Gryffindor girls rooms. She wondered if every house during this time was a the arranged in the same way. She walked past each armoire, the back of each facing the center of the room, lending additional privacy and displaying the occupant's name on a brass plaque.
She stopped when she found her name. It was then that Hermione noticed there was a curtain strung between each of the armoires, lending even more privacy. Hermione could definitely get used to this.
Lady's merow broke the silence and startled Hermione.
"Oh, Lady. Well, here's our new home...at least, for the next ten months," Hermione said.
She dropped her trunk in front of the armoire and opened it to begin her unpacking. She wanted to be completely unpacked before heading to the Sorting Ceremony.
Hermione set up a small bed for Lady underneath the bedside table. Once again, she admired the furniture. Her desk sat against the outside wall and had a small window showing the lake above it. The armoire was directly across from the desk, and Hermione's bed was to the left. The bed was a four poster, just like they had in Gryffindor, except the hangings were distinctly Slytherin in color and style. Hermione didn't much care, one way or the other; she was just happy to see they were heavy enough to ward off the chill and damp air.
Hermione dawdled as long as she could before heading up to meet the rest of the student body. Straightening her robes, she left Lady napping in her new bed and headed for the Entrance Hall.
The carriages were just arriving as she climbed the last set of stairs. She had gained quite a bit of her energy back since that first day out of the Hospital Wing, but still, she wasn't quite up to her pre-on-the-run days. She paused at the top of the stairs for a moment to catch her breath, and let several groups of students pass her by before joining the crowd.
She didn't see Tom Riddle anywhere. What if he was the last student in? He was Head Boy, responsible for making sure all the students who weren't first-years made it up to the castle.
Not wanting to wait until she saw him, she joined the crowd and made her way to the Slytherin table. With a tight smile, she sat down next to another girl who appeared to be about her age with. She didn't introduce herself, though, and nobody at the table made an effort to speak to her.
The hall was filling up quickly when someone sat next to her. She turned and then immediately bit back a groan, seeing it was Tom Riddle. Because, of course, it was. She rolled her eyes and turned away, focussing on the High Table.
"Hello, Miss Granger," Tom greeted.
Whispers began around them and spread outward like ripples in a pond.
Hermione turned to Riddle and glared at him. "Mr Riddle," she snapped.
"I'm pleased to see that you are a Slytherin." He grinned at her.
Anyone else would have thought he was charming, but Hermione could see through him. His grin made her blood run cold. She nodded, then turned to watch as Professor Dumbledore ushered in the first-years.
The Sorting went as every Sorting did in Hermione's own time. She clapped politely for each Slytherin student who was Sorted. A few of the names she recognized, but most she didn't. What shocked Hermione was the number of students that needed to be Sorted: at least eighty she counted. In Hermione's own time, there had been less than forty. Could this be a product of two back-to-back magical wars? Hermione had to assume so.
After the Sorting Ceremony, Hermione introduced herself to her dorm-mates. They were each polite but a bit standoffish. Hermione understood; they had been together for six years and here she was, the interloper coming in during their final year. Hermione didn't mind, though. She'd just as soon keep to herself. Keep her head down, study, work hard, and get out of Hogwarts alive had always been her mantra.
The one difference between her time and 1944 was that schedules were passed out the evening of the Sorting Ceremony. Once they had all returned to the Slytherin common room, Professor Slughorn came in. He gave a short speech about Slytherin and what he expected of everyone, then passed out schedules.
Hermione was pleased to see eight total classes, a full load. But she still wished she could have fit in Astronomy.
"Same as me," a voice whispered in her ear.
Hermione whirled around and found herself nose-to-nose with Riddle.
"What?" she asked stupidly.
"Your class schedule, it's the same as mine. Even Magical Theory, which isn't offered most of the time," he replied, showing her his schedule.
"Brilliant," Hermione said sarcastically. Then she turned and made her way to bed. It was going to be a bloody long school year.
Chapter 5: Seventh Year Begins
August 12, 1944
After Tom's trip to Little Hangleton, he spent most of his summer waiting for his letter from Hogwarts: his last letter. He would never have to step foot in the orphanage again, come the following summer. Tom couldn't wait.
His letter finally came a week after he made the second Horcrux. After making the second Horcrux, Tom felt much the same as he had after making the first: like something was missing. He had once again taken to keeping the Horcrux with him at all times, this time wearing it. He already had his signet ring with the Ansuz rune and compulsion charm, and he didn't care for the look of two rings, but he planned to only wear the Horcrux until he felt like his soul was no longer torn.
His Hogwarts letter came with two surprises. The first surprise was that he would be Head Boy, which pleased him greatly, although he'd already had a sneaking suspicion. And the second surprise was a letter from Headmaster Dippet. The Headmaster explained that he had taken guardianship of Miss Granger, who was a long lost relative of his. Tom snorted at that line. 'Long lost' was right, but he was sure the girl wasn't a relative of Dippet's.
Dippet went on to say that he was placing her into Slytherin, which was a surprise. He wasn't going to Sort her? Tom wondered why. Then Dippet asked if Tom would tutor her in the coming year as they would be sharing classes. Tom smirked. He couldn't have asked for a better outcome himself. Not only would she be in his house and sharing all his lessons, Dippet expected Tom to tutor her. It was the perfect opportunity for Tom to find out all her little secrets and figure out a way to bind the girl to him.
September 1, 1944
The train ride to Hogwarts was as boring as ever. Becoming Head Boy did afford him the perk of being able to lounge in the Prefect car after the standard meeting. He was annoyed that Minerva McGonagall, of all people, had been made Head Girl. A Gryffindor? The last three Head Girls had been Ravenclaws; it was much more their style in Tom's opinion.
McGonagall did, at least, leave Tom to the Prefect car, and he spent the rest of the trip to Scotland with his Knights, learning about their summers and the latest pure-blood gossip: who was marrying whom, pending betrothals, broken promises. Tom wanted to know it all. In reality, he could care less. His interest was purely in acquiring more power by whatever means necessary.
Tom was exceedingly pleased to see Granger at the Slytherin table, facing away so she didn't see him walk in. Nor did she turn around when he glared at the sixth-year boy sitting next to her.
Once the boy noticed Tom, he quickly moved down the bench, and Tom took his seat. He greeted Granger and smirked at her coldness in return. Tom wasn't worried; she'd warm up to him, eventually. Most of the girls were practically in love with him. He'd have her eating out of his hand in no time, too—especially with all the dirty little secrets he knew about her.
He was surprised about the Headmaster's announcement about her. He mentioned she was from the continent and had fled violence there. He noticed that Granger had the grace to blush during that portion of the speech.
After the feast was over, he tried to corner her in the common room, but she brushed him off and went to bed. Tom decided he wouldn't push it. He had all year after all.
September 2, 1944
His opportunity came sooner than he thought, the following day was a Saturday, and classes wouldn't begin until Monday. He found Granger in the library after lunch, in a back corner, far from the door and where most students wouldn't travel. It was remarkably close to where Tom himself preferred to study. He watched as the light glinted in her hair and once again was reminded of the Wood Avens he had been collecting when he found her.
"Miss Granger," he greeted and then grinned when she jumped in her seat. Tom loved it when he caught people off guard.
"Riddle," she bit out, refusing to look up and make eye contact.
That was alright, Tom could deal with that. He walked around the table and slid into the seat right next to her. He wasn't sure what she was reading, as she had her head leaned so far over the book, her bushy hair hid the book.
"What are you reading?" he asked. "Classes haven't even begun yet."
"None of your business, Riddle," Granger turned and glared at him, slamming the book closed and placing her arms on top of it, so he couldn't read the title.
"Listen, Granger. I'm to be your tutor. I should know what your weaknesses and strengths are," Tom tried another track, this time smiling slightly, hoping she would warm to him. She didn't.
"I don't need a tutor. And I certainly won't be telling you anything about me," she growled.
Granger tossed the book into her bag and moved to stand. Tom clamped his hand down on her left wrist before she could move too far away from him. She tugged at her hand, but Tom only tightened her grip. She had her wand in her other hand as she whirled around to face Tom and glared at him, her wand pointed at his face.
"Unhand me," she hissed.
"No," Tom smirked at her and tugged on her wrist, making her stumble into him.
He was still seated and in order to not end up on his lap, she loosened her grip on her wand and grasped his shoulder to steady herself. He took the opportunity to relieve her of her wand and stand so that he towered over her short frame. He tossed her wand onto the floor behind him.
"See, I know things about you, Granger. Things you don't want the rest of the school knowing," Tom replied silkily.
"You know nothing about me," Granger snapped, still tugging on her wrist, trying to free it.
Tom gripped it all the tighter until he felt the bones grind together. When she winced in pain, he smirked down at her and pulled her closer, so her body was practically touching his.
"Sure I do, I know that you aren't fleeing violence from Grindelwald, for instance."
Granger glared, she didn't say a word.
"And that you aren't from the continent at all, but rather from the future. 1998 to be exact," Tom grinned as her eyes widened in fear. He loved when the fear began.
"And I know that you know me. Lord Voldemort, at your service, my dear," Tom drawled and stepped back to sweep a slight bow, still clutching her wrist.
"Let go of me!" Granger shouted. She shoved him with her free hand, and Tom was startled enough to step back and loosen his hold on her wrist. She freed her hand entirely and cradled it to her chest.
Tom felt a wince of remorse run through him. Had he hurt her? That wasn't his intention. He just wanted to scare her into cooperating with him. She darted around him and picked up her wand before scampering out of the library entirely. It had been a completely unfruitful conversation and Tom felt the anger begin to build inside him.
He stormed out of the library and headed toward the Slytherin common room. He had a routine when he got this angry, and it worked well for him in the past. Even better that as Head Boy he had his own room. Although, his Knights were used to his fits of temper and knew to stay out of the way. Mostly, they were just grateful when he took it out on their furniture and belongings and rather than them.
Tom strode through the common room, grateful that he didn't run into Granger on the way, he wasn't sure he'd be able to stop himself from killing her if he saw her just then. If he'd bothered to look into a mirror, he'd notice that his deep blue eyes, weren't blue anymore. In fact, they were a dark, shining red. A color that did not escape the notice of anyone who came across him on his way to the common room.
Banging open the door to his private room, at the end of the long hallway of the boys' dormitories, Tom slammed the door shut with a wave of his left hand. His wand was in his right hand, where it had been sheathed in a wrist holster just moments before and he was casting without saying a word.
Furniture and fabric exploded under Tom's dual casting. Wandless with his left hand and wordless with his right. Had anyone been around to witness it, it would have truly awed and frightened them. As it did his Knights. It was half the reason most of his Knights followed him, watching him destroy a room and everything in it. It was an incredible amount of power.
It took him less than ten minutes to destroy every object in his room and deplete the amount of raw anger, energy, and magic that had built up within him. He stood panting in the middle of the destruction. Even Tom wasn't free from its effects, he had splinters of wood and slivers of fabric all over him. He even had a small cut on his cheek, where a splinter had flown at him with enough velocity to draw blood.
He enjoyed the decimation around him; he tilted his head back and closed his eyes. As he raised both arms slowly, he let out a small murmured spell. Items began repairing themselves. Fabric weaved itself back together again, and book pages glued themselves back into their proper books. Wood shavings wiggled into the correct position before smoothing and becoming solid once more. After a few moments, Tom felt a squirm under his foot, he glanced down to see one final fragment of wood trapped under his boot. He lifted it and it flew from him and embedded itself into the door to his armoire, soon his room was back to rights, just as it had been when he entered it.
Tom sat heavily on the bed, exhausted from the amount of power that had rushed through him in the last several moments. It was Saturday and he wouldn't be getting Granger to talk to him anymore. He kicked off his boots, and settled down onto his side, deciding to have a nap before dinner.
September 9, 1944
Tom had been in a terrible mood most of the week. Granger was still rebuffing him at every chance, and he had a full load of classes. Taking eight classes meant he didn't have a single free period. At least he wasn't taking Astronomy and could use all his after dinner time to get his side research completed.
The first Saturday after school began, Tom found Granger in the library once more. She was back near the Restricted Section, a place most students stayed away from because it's where Tom liked to study. He would have thought Granger would have figured that out and also stayed away. That she didn't, intrigued him further.
When he approached he could see she was reading a journal from the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. He wondered if she was reading series A or B, then he got a better look at the cover, 8 July 1985. His eyes widened, she was reading a journal that wouldn't be published for over forty years.
"Granger," Tom greeted her.
Jumping at the sound of his voice, Granger's eyes went wide and she hurried to shove the journal into a very small beaded handbag that was lying on the table in front of her. Tom was confused, did she really think that large journal was going to fit into that bag? But then, it did, somehow. That was a complicated bit of magic. An extension charm perhaps? And what else, maybe a lightweight charm?
"Riddle," Granger snapped and made to stand.
"Oh, don't leave on my account," Tom said seriously. He turned on the charm as much as he could, the only way he was going to get her to trust him was by charm, he knew. So he was here to try and make it work.
Granger leveled a glare at him, "What do you want?"
"Were you reading series A or B?" Tom asked gesturing to the beaded handbag that was now dangling from her left wrist.
"A," Granger replied tentatively.
"Ah, math and physics. I quite like the A series better myself," Tom said.
"You read a Muggle science journal?" she asked, a look of incredulity on her face.
"Math and physics are part of Arithmancy," Tom said as if she were a small child and he was explaining something complicated.
Granger rolled her eyes, "I know that," she snapped. "I just didn't think that you of all people would be interested in anything written by Muggles."
Tom shrugged, "Muggles aren't the worst thing in the world. Especially Muggle scientists. They tend to be the ones who are stubborn enough not to believe in magic."
He offered her a very small smirk, and she actually laughed. It was a small laugh, but it was enough. Tom had disarmed her.
"That's true," Granger agreed.
"Can I ask what you were reading about? I noticed the date…" Tom trailed off gently, he didn't want to spook her.
Granger's eyes widened, and she paled slightly. She swayed on her feet a moment, and Tom grabbed her by the upper arm, to hold her upright.
"You don't have to tell me," Tom said quickly. "But I did see the date, 1985. And I overheard your conversation with Headmaster Dippet in the Hospital Wing. I know you're from the future."
Granger closed her eyes. Tom still hadn't released her arm, although he wasn't trying to intimidate her at the moment, so he held her gently.
She seemed to come to a conclusion because she opened her big whisky-brown eyes and stared straight at him.
"I am from the future. I won't tell you more than that. I'm still trying to figure out a way to get home."
Her voice started out strong and by the time she finished, Tom had to listen closely to hear her. He was sure there were tears ready to leak out of her eyes, so he guided her to the seat she had vacated and sat next to her.
"You don't have to," Tom said. "Maybe you can tell me about that bag on your wrist instead? Did you buy it with all the charms on it?"
Granger took a moment, closing her eyes once more as she fiddled with the bag on her wrist. She took it off and placed it on the table.
"I made it actually," she admitted. "We… I needed something small, but would be able to carry a lot."
"That's impressive. What charms did you use on it?"
"Oh," Granger laughed. "A lot. There are three undetectable extension charms layered on top of one another. To make a stable base, you see. I tried it with just one, but I went through about six handbags before I realized I needed one for each plane. Then layered into each plane I had to add several lightweight charms. Can't have a tiny little bag like this, and have it weighing more than a house," Granger actually chuckled again as she made that joke.
Tom smiled at her. He was pleased to see she was warming up to him. Apparently, even time-traveling girls like Granger couldn't resist his charm.
"That's all rather incredible, how did you come up with it all?" Tom asked as he eyed the bag with interest.
Granger considered him for a moment, then grinned, "Go on, stick your hand in."
She held the bag open for him. Even the opening looked too small to fit his hand. He put his right hand in and found that there was plenty of room, despite the looks. Then it kept going, his hand went further and further down until he was buried up to his elbow. He looked at her with wide amazed eyes. His fingers touched everything they could reach, some things he could identify, but others he couldn't.
"This is amazing, but how do you find anything?"
"A simple Accio usually works. I know pretty much everything I have in there. I did have to create a bag emptying spell, for when I needed to find something I didn't remember was in there," she shrugged and then blushed.
So she liked praise, she was just a wealth of information.
Tom slowly pulled his hand out, having cataloged what he could. A lot of books, some clothes, at least one cauldron, and some coins, probably galleons. He wondered what she had been doing that she needed a bag that would hold her entire life in it.
"Well, it's really marvelous. Can you maybe teach me how you layered the charms? I'm not sure that's something we'll cover this year."
"Probably not. I asked my Charms professor and he mentioned it was something usually covered in a Mastery. I could probably find some time to show you how it's done," Granger grinned at him.
She liked praise and teaching people things. Tom was going to have her eating out of his hand in no time at all.
Chapter 6: The First Attempt
September 27, 1944
Hermione still wasn't sure what she thought about Tom Riddle. Ever since that day in the library, the one where he caught her reading from the Royal Society of London journal, from 1985 no less, he'd been different. Tom had been kinder to her. He wasn't tutoring her, by any means, but she did allow Armando to think it. Armando insisted on meeting with her once or twice a week for tea, when Hermione's schedule would allow. She was taking as many classes as a NEWT student could, so her free time was limited to weekends and evenings.
She had her suspicions that Armando was trying to play some sort of matchmaker between her and Tom. Just the thought of it made her shudder in revulsion. Tom may be ridiculously good looking with his dark hair that fell in soft waves over his deep blue eyes and the dimple you only saw when he was truly smiling, but he still creeped Hermione out. He would stare at her with such intensity sometimes that she felt like some sort of science experiment.
Since the day she had told him she was from the future, he hadn't bothered her about it. She had expected him to grill her relentlessly, but he had backed off. She didn't even feel him try to use Legilimency on her. Which was shocking, she knew he was quite skilled; Armando bragged of Tom's skill any moment he could, as a way to brag about his own teaching. Armando wasn't nearly as humble as Professor Dumbledore, but Hermione couldn't help but like him anyway. He had saved her for the time being and for that alone she was thankful. Although, she was having trouble living in the Slytherin dorms and resented the fact that she had to live there when she could be ensconced in her lovely tower attached to the Headmaster's quarters.
Sighing, Hermione rolled out of bed. Most of the girls she shared with appreciated a lie in, and thus showered in the evenings before bed. The same time Hermione had also wished to shower. But her status as a half-blood made that distinctly uncomfortable. The first time she'd attempted it, her roommates had looked shocked. The second time, they all walked out of the bathroom entirely. Hermione got the hint. She gathered her things and headed toward the bathroom they shared with the sixth year girls. Thankfully the sixth years also preferred their beauty rest to getting up early.
The early mornings did provide Hermione with one small comfort: an empty common room. Her roommates, in general, ignored her. It hurt a bit, that girls were the same in 1944 as they were in 1998, so she was familiar with it. Perhaps that's why she had allowed herself to get as close to Tom as she had? She was lonely. She didn't have anyone besides Armando to talk to of the future and what her life had been like. Armando was kind and Hermione would be forever indebted to him, but he was much more the kindly uncle, than the comforting shoulder to cry on, or even the peer to commiserate with.
It didn't matter. Hermione just had to get through this year, then she could leave and do whatever she wanted. Maybe she'd move to the continent. Or to the States. Or maybe even to Asia or Australia. Nobody knew her in this time, her options were only limited by her imagination. It made for a pretty dream as Hermione hurried through her shower.
It was Wednesday which meant double Charms, lunch, then double Potions. A very long day indeed. Hopefully, she could get a little side-reading done this morning in the empty common room. She hurried to dress and dried her hair, using the handy charm Lavender had finally broken down and taught her in fifth year. It left Hermione's hair much less bushy. It would still frizz, especially in wet weather or when she was agitated, but it looked nothing so bad as it had her first few years at Hogwarts.
Hermione smiled at the empty common room and curled up on a couch in front of the large fireplace. She liked the one outside the boy's dormitory wing because it wasn't the one the girls chose. The boys left her alone, or Tom sat with her. Which used to make her feel very uncomfortable and on her guard, but as the weeks went on, she found herself softening toward him.
Her silence was interrupted after just a few moments by Tom joining her on the couch. He didn't join her every morning, but more often than not, he did. Hermione speculated that he had figured out she liked the early morning reading time and had decided it was another way to ingratiate her with his presence. It's not like she could stop him. And protesting about it would just lead to an argument, or him thinking she cared. She'd rather he thought she was indifferent, so she pretended to be so.
"Morning, Miss Granger," Tom greeted her.
"Seriously, it's Hermione," Hermione responded for the umpteenth time.
"Hermione," Tom grinned as he opened his own book and settled into the couch.
Hermione rolled her eyes and glanced at her watch. Six thirty in the morning wasn't too early for breakfast, it was just beginning actually, but since their first class didn't start until eight, it was too early unless Hermione wanted to go to the library first. Actually, going to the library would get her out of Tom's presence neatly. She closed her book and slid it into her bag.
"Breakfast already?" Tom asked, glancing up at her.
The look on his face took her breath away, he looked so innocent and beguiling. If Hermione didn't know who he was, who he would become, she knew she'd be lost to his charms.
She inhaled quickly to clear her mind of her thoughts. "Yes, I want to go to the library before Charms."
She turned and headed toward the door of the common room, shaking her head. What had she been thinking? Innocent? Tom Riddle was not innocent. Maybe beguiling. She sometimes felt as if he had cast some sort of spell over her.
"I'll come with you," Tom said as he caught up.
Hermione couldn't refuse him, so she just nodded and allowed him to escort her to the Great Hall. He even offered her his arm. Hermione snorted to herself and Tom at least had the grace to mostly ignore it. She did see the corner of his mouth twitch into a minute smirk.
They were the only students at breakfast, and they both ate quickly and in relative silence. Hermione liked to read while she ate and Tom seemed happy to let her. She was reading everything she could about the multiverse and how it worked, but it wasn't nearly as an advanced theory as it would be in her own time. Actually, she may have been searching for the wrong things. She'd always thought of it as the multiverse, but she kept seeing the 'many worlds interpretation'. She wished she was back in 1998 and had access to fifty years of research on it.
She finished her tea and toast and made to stand. Tom stood with her and she suppressed a sigh. Apparently, she would have an unwanted escort to the library as well. He even picked up her bag for her and this time she couldn't quite suppress the sigh.
"Now, now, Hermione. The proper response is thank you," Tom smirked as he held her arm for her once more.
"People will think we're dating," Hermione hissed as the first of the students began to trickle into the Great Hall.
"So?" Tom asked.
"I don't want to date you," Hermione snapped.
"Some girls would kill to be in your shoes," Tom said as they finally reached the library and he held the door for them.
"Bully for them," Hermione muttered as she ducked under Tom's arm and entered the large room.
She truly did love the library, just entering the space made her feel calm and happy, despite the company she was keeping these days.
"What are we looking for today?" Tom asked as Hermione approached the card catalog.
"Resources for the Transfiguration essay due next month," Hermione muttered as she began flipping through the drawers.
"I've finished mine," Tom replied with a smirk.
"Bully for you," Hermione said as she tapped the card in front of her with her wand. The book flew off the shelf and landed with a slight thud on top of card corral.
"We should get to Charms," Tom said as he grabbed the book and placed it in her bag, which still hung from his shoulder.
"Fine," Hermione rolled her eyes once more when he offered her his arm. She thought he was ridiculous, but he was the only person her age willing to talk to her, so she suffered his ridiculousness on that account alone.
After Charms class, Hermione let Tom lead her down toward the Great Hall. They were on the grand staircase discussing the lecture and practical they had just participated in when Hermione was shoved roughly from behind. She wobbled for a moment, reaching for Tom's hand, but pitched over the railing of the staircase.
"Tom!" she screamed as she fell from the seventh floor, where the Charms classroom was located. It happened faster than she could think possible, and suddenly she was in a flashback.
Ron followed Harry down the trapdoor and Hermione kept playing the flute for a bit until she was sure Ron was down. Then with a final note, she too jumped through the trapdoor and landed in some sort of plant it seemed. She blinked as her eyes grew used to the darkness.
"We must be miles under the school," Hermione muttered.
"Lucky this plant thing's here, really," Ron said.
"Lucky," shrieked Hermione. "Look at you both!"
She watched as more vines wrapped themselves around both Harry and Ron. What was this stuff? She was struggling as the plant tried to snake tendrils around her wrists and ankles. Harry and Ron already had their legs bound tightly, and it seemed as if they hadn't even noticed.
Hermione stiffened her body and stopped moving, and the tendrils wrapped around her loosened, and she fell through the plant to the floor below. Suddenly she realized what it was.
"Stop moving!" she ordered. "I know what this is — it's Devil's Snare!"
"Oh, I'm so glad we know what it's called, that's a great help," snarled Ron, leaning back, trying to stop the plant from curling around his neck.
"Shut up, I'm trying to remember how to kill it!" Hermione shouted back.
"Well, hurry up, I can't breathe!" Harry gasped as he wrestled in the plant.
"Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare… what did Professor Sprout say? It likes the dark and the damp —"
"So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes — of course — but there's no wood!" Hermione cried.
"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"
"Oh, right!" Hermione whipped out her wand, waved it, and muttered the incantation for bluebell flames, but instead of conjuring a small handful, she let out a huge blast at the plant. In a matter of seconds, the two boys were able to begin moving. They wriggled and flailed, and were finally able to pull free.
"Lucky you pay attention in Herbology, Hermione," said Harry.
Chapter 7: Aftermath
September 27, 1944
Tom couldn't think as he watched Granger tip over the stair rail. His eyes widened in horror as he watched her tumble. She was dead. He'd just been talking to her, he still had her bag slung across her shoulder, and just like that, she was dead. The person who pushed her, tried to get away. They turned and began running back up the stairs, but quicker than he thought he could move, he'd grabbed their wrist. He turned to face the top of the stairs and tugged and the person fell into his chest.
"T-Tom," Calanthe Burke said. She looked scared, even as she attempted to flutter her eyelashes at him. He lifted his lip in a snarl but decided it would be better to try and get to Granger first.
He dragged Burke behind him as he rushed down the stairs, shouting as he went, "MOVE! OUT OF MY WAY!"
When he came across a seventh year Ravenclaw prefect, Agatha Boot, on the fifth-floor landing he shoved Burke at her.
"She pushed Granger. Take her to Dippet," Tom snapped.
Boot didn't move for a moment, and Tom turned and roared at her, "NOW!"
Then he flew down the stairs, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. He missed a connection on the third floor and hopped onto the rail and over it. By the time he reached the Entrance Hall he didn't even have to tell people to get out of his way, they were already moving of their own accord.
Dead, dead, dead, repeated itself over and over again inside his head. Granger was dead. Tom's future was dead. It was all dead. Because of some stupid, jealous sixth year. She would be dead he decided. Burke wouldn't live to see her seventh year. He skidded to his knees as he found Granger lying on the floor of the dungeon. He was dimly aware of a few scared second year Slytherins in the corner.
He looked at Granger, expecting to see gore and blood and was shocked to see that not only was she not dead, she was breathing. Her eyes moved rapidly behind her eyelids like she was dreaming.
"Avens? Hermione?" he asked as he felt for a pulse in her neck. It was strong and steady.
He pushed a lock of hair from her eyes and stroked her face. He didn't understand what happened. She should be dead. Her skull should be crushed and she should be bleeding from the impact against the stone floor. But she wasn't. She was breathing evenly and had a steady pulse. She appeared to be asleep. He lifted her head and felt the back of it, it was perfectly normal, she didn't even have a knot.
"What happened?" he hissed to the second years.
"I - I was practicing my cushion charms, sir," one of the boys admitted.
A cushioning charm? A cushioning charm had protected Granger from an eight-story fall? It seemed insane, and yet… here she was. Alive and whole, if not awake.
"Your name?" Tom demanded.
"M-Marius Flint," the boy squeaked.
"You saved her life," Tom told the boy. "Come and find me when you graduate Hogwarts."
The boy nodded and Tom turned his attention back to Granger.
Her eyes fluttered open and Tom felt himself drowning in their dark brown pool. Thankful to every god, goddess, and wizard before him that she was alive.
"Are you alright, Avens?" He brushed the stubborn lock of hair behind her ear once more and cupped her cheek, still searching her eyes. She took a moment to answer him and he watched as a momentary look of confusion passed over her face.
"I-I think so," she started struggling like she was going to stand. But Tom put a hand on her shoulder, pressing her into the ground. She'd just fallen at least thirty meters. No way was he allowing her to attempt standing on her own.
"We should go to the Hospital Wing to be sure."
He put an arm around her shoulders and under her knees, pulling her into his arms. She felt light in his arms, but right. More right that he wanted to think about at the moment, so he shoved that thought to the back of his head. A crowd was beginning to form around them as students trickled down after Tom's mad flight to the dungeon.
"I'm sure I'm fine, Tom," Granger murmured, even as she snaked her hands around his neck. He really, really liked how that felt. A wave of possessiveness and want swept through him so quickly he almost stumbled, although his burden was light.
"I'm not even sure I know how you survived," Tom replied. It really didn't make sense that a second year's cushioning charm saved her. Either Marius Flint was extraordinarily powerful, or there was something else going on.
"I don't know either."
"Hospital Wing it is then," Tom replied as he stepped through the crowds and began climbing the stairs to the second floor.
He wasn't even winded when he backed through the doors of the Hospital Wing, carrying Granger for the second time since he'd met her. He hoped this wasn't going to become a habit.
"What on earth happened here, Mr Riddle?" Madam Davies demanded as she bustled out of her office.
She gestured to the closest bed and Tom set Granger atop it, gently, carefully, even brushing her hair out of her eyes again.
"I fell —" Granger started.
"She was pushed," Tom said coldly. "I need to inform Headmaster Dippet."
"Go, go," Madam Davies waved him away.
"Don't leave without me, Hermione," Tom told her, squeezing her hand before he left the Infirmary in search of Headmaster Dippet.
As he ascended the stairs to the headmaster's office, he could hear shouting. At least Boot had listened and brought Burke to the headmaster, Tom thought as he slowly rose above the floor.
Headmaster Dippet, Professor Slughorn, Agatha Boot, and Calanthe Burke were all in the headmaster's office. Boot was quiet, but still had a grip on Burke's arm. Burke was ranting at the headmaster and Slughorn was shaking his head.
"Ah, Tom. I'm so glad you could join us. How is Miss Granger?" Headmaster Dippet asked.
"Alive, thankfully," Tom replied shortly. The headmaster didn't seem too concerned, so the gossip mill was alive and well and he'd already heard the news.
"Miss Boot says you know what happened? I can't quite tell what Miss Burke is on about," Headmaster Dippet said drolly.
"Headmaster! I said —" Dippet silenced her with a flick of his wand.
"Now Miss Burke, you've had plenty of time to talk. Let's hear Tom's side of things, shall we?" the headmaster suggested in a tone that made it clear it wasn't a suggestion at all.
Tom had never seen this side of Headmaster Dippet before. He always had this act of a doddering fool. But here there was steel under his voice and Tom was a little glad it wasn't directed at him.
"Thank you, Headmaster. Miss Granger and I were leaving Charms, we were on the moving staircase between the seventh and sixth floors. Just as I had turned to ask her a question, she was pushed, violently, from behind and fell off the staircase entirely. Before the person who pushed her could get away, I grabbed their wrist. It was Miss Burke. I pulled her along after me, as I ran down the stairs to Miss Granger. The first prefect I came across was Miss Boot, and I handed Miss Burke off in order to get to Miss Granger and ensure she was alright. Miraculously a second year Slytherin was practicing cushioning charms and saved Miss Granger's life."
"She's not dead?" Burke spat. "Figures."
"Miss Burke! I think at least a suspension will be required for your behavior. Pending the Board of Governor's review. I will push for expulsion," Headmaster Dippet growled at the student.
"Now, see here, Armando," Slughorn began. "Miss Burke is from Sacred Twenty-Eight! We can't just —"
"Horace, she tried to kill a fellow student. She's a danger to others. She cannot stay here. I won't have it. Not in my school." Dippet's voice was quiet but terrifying, even to Tom.
Tom smirked at Burke, she wouldn't be a danger to anyone soon. He would make it so she would disappear entirely. And he would enjoy every moment of it. Nobody took what was his. And Granger was very much his.
Slughorn looked chastened and Burke was sobbing.
"Pl-Please, P-Professor," Burke began.
"Enough!" Headmaster Dippet thumped his hand on his desk. Burke squeaked and shut her mouth. Even Boot jumped.
"Miss Boot, thank you for your valuable assistance today. Twenty points to Ravenclaw. Forty points to Slytherin, Mr. Riddle for your quick actions. Another twenty for the second year who save Miss Granger's life. Now, I must go see my ward for myself."
The headmaster stood from his desk and gestured everyone out of the office. Slughorn took Burke's arm and escorted her away as Boot scuttled past them all and descended the staircase first. Tom waited for the headmaster, knowing they were going in the same direction.
"How is she really, Tom?" They had been taking weekly lessons for years, the headmaster tended to be quite familiar with Tom when they were alone. And for all the headmaster's bumbling, and easy manipulation, Tom rather liked the man.
"Really, she's fine. I don't think a second year's cushioning charm saved her from that fall though," Tom frowned. A second year couldn't really have done that, could he? Even if Flint developed into a powerful wizard, his magical core was still growing and maturing. Tom thought it was possible. Another reason to keep an eye on Marius Flint.
"I agree," the headmaster said, but he didn't offer any theories. "Which second year was it?"
"Marius Flint," Tom replied.
"A Flint? Really? They aren't generally known for their magical prowess," Dippet commented.
One of the reasons Tom cultivated his relationship was the headmaster was for tidbits like the one he just dropped. Being raised in the Muggle world, Tom had no idea which families were considered powerful. Tom always listened closely so he could greedily gobble morsels like this up and store them away for future use.
"Will you really expel Burke?" Tom asked, changing the subject.
"Any student who causes another student death or almost death must be expelled. It's in the by-laws. And I've come to like Miss Granger since she fell into our laps last spring," the headmaster winked at Tom, startling a laugh out of him.
Tom rather liked Granger too.
"Why would she have done it is what I don't understand."
"Calanthe Burke has been romantically interested in me for years," Tom responded. "I may have initiated the Acts of Courtship with Hermione," Tom said slyly as he glanced at Dippet out of the corner of his eye.
Technically, if Tom were going to formally court Granger, he should ask Dippet's permission. But Acts of Courtship were usually initiated at school before any formal courtship could take place.
"Good for you, my boy," Dippet said with a broad smile and slapped him on the back.
Tom grinned back at him, "I'm not sure she's aware though."
Dippet nodded, "I can see she may not have the knowledge of British courting rituals. I'll discuss with her when I can."
"If it's alright with you — I'd rather tell her."
Tom wasn't planning to tell her at all. He was doing it more for appearance sake than anything else. To keep others away from her. The boys had figured it out quickly, it appeared the girls needed a lesson.
"Of course! I wouldn't want to mess up any grand courtship plans you have laid," Dippet winked at him.
As they entered the Hospital Wing, Tom smiled at their shared secret. Madam Davies was still fussing over Granger, and she sat sullenly in bed with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Tom, tell her I'm fine!" Granger frowned.
"You need to let her look you over. You could have died," Tom told her emphatically. He approached the bed and gripped Granger's hand tightly in his own. This was a new overture for him and he was relieved that she didn't fight it as she seemed to fight everything else. Half of his plan was just wearing her down until she was so accustomed to him, she wouldn't know what to do without him.
"Mr Riddle is correct, my dear," Dippet said as he crossed to the other side of the bed. He patted Granger's arm.
"Seriously, I'm fine," Granger said, even as she squeezed Tom's hand. Tom squeezed hers back, hiding a smirk.
"Well, I can't find anything wrong with you," Madam Davies responded. "How far did you say she fell, Mr. Riddle?"
"Eight stories, from the stairwell between the seventh and sixth floors to the first floor of the dungeon. A second year was practicing cushioning charms, but —"
"Well there you go," Granger said brightly as she swung her legs off the bed and set her feet on the floor.
Tom didn't let go of her hand.
"Saved by a lucky cushioning charm. Which second year was it, Tom?"
Granger stood, she swayed slightly and Tom placed his other hand on her hip to steady her. She caught herself at the same moment by placing her palm on his shoulder. Tom rather liked the feel of her hip under his hand and her hand on his shoulder. His brows furrowed as he tried to process what that meant, before deciding it was another thing he really, really didn't want to examine.
"Marius Flint," Tom responded, releasing Granger's hip.
"Really? Well, I'll thank him when I see him next."
"Thank you for coming to look in on me, Armando," Granger turned to the headmaster and smiled warmly.
"Of course, my dear, of course! I'm glad Tom was there to save the day. Although, maybe he should have had a tighter hold on you," Dippet winked and Tom watched as Granger rolled her eyes.
Tom smirked in amusement. That wasn't a bad idea. He would step up his courtship to help protect Granger. And maybe a word or two after he made Calanthe Burke disappear in the right ears would warn off anyone else who thought the best way to get to Tom was to hurt Granger.
"Well, it looks like you've missed most of lunch," Dippet said with a glance down at his watch. He flicked his wand and a piece of parchment flew out the end and went flapping down the corridor. "I sent Professor Slughorn and excusal for your afternoon lesson. You've had quite enough today, I fear. Off with you both back to your common room," Dippet flapped his hands at them.
"I don't want to see you back here for some time, Miss Granger," Madam Davies scolded.
Granger nodded to Madam Davies and smiled to the headmaster. Still gripping Tom's hand, she led them out of the Hospital Wing and into the hallway beyond.
"You really think a second year's cushioning charm saved you?" Tom asked her once they were far enough away from the Hospital Wing to not be overheard.
"Maybe," Granger murmured and bit her lip.
A thought flashed through his brain, wondering what Granger's lips tasted like, and then it was gone. Tom shook himself, he had to stop having these thoughts about her.
He fully planned to court her and use her for his gains, but he didn't do love or lust or anything of the sort. When he had needs he either took care of them on his own or for some variety visited select locations in Knockturn Alley or Hogsmeade. He had no dalliances with any witch in school, much to their disappointment. And he was glad he hadn't tasted the wares at school. Look at what Calanthe Burke did to the first witch Tom had ever shown interest in. He couldn't imagine having to deal with that sort of attention and drama throughout his school years.
"I'm not so sure that's saved you," Tom told Granger as he guided her down the stairs with a firm grip on her hand. She allowed the hold, even squeezing his hand back. Tom wondered what was going through her head but had vowed to stay out of it. Until she invited him in. The whole goal was to get her to trust him.
"I don't want to think about it right now," Granger said, she looked up at him with pleading eyes. Tom decided he would drop the subject. For now.
They made it back to the Slytherin common room without incident and Tom installed Granger in her favorite settee in front one of the large fireplaces. There were several other housemates in the room at the time, all eyes were on her until Tom sent them a glare, and then they looked anywhere but Granger.
"Why did you call me Avens?" she asked nestling into the settee.
"Hmm?" Tom asked. He still thought of her as Avens in his head. Her hair was so like the root of the Wood Avens he had been collecting the night he found her, that the name just fit.
"Avens. You called me Avens when I first woke after the fall," Granger replied.
Tom frowned. He hadn't realized. He'd been in such a blind panic at the moment. Should he tell her? Would it endear her to him to know he had a private nickname for her? He thought maybe it might.
"It's your hair," he commented as he reached a hand out and fingered a curl. He pulled it and it sprung back into place. "The night I found you, I was collecting Wood Avens root. And your hair reminded me so much of it, that Avens just kind of stuck in my head. And we didn't know your name for several weeks until you woke up."
Granger frowned and looked away. She crossed her arms over her chest in a pout.
"I like your hair," Tom admitted. "Do you mind the nickname so much?"
"Nobody likes my hair," Granger huffed, still not looking at him.
Tom sighed. So that's where her insecurity lay.
He slid his right arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, "Well, I do," he whispered into her hair and planted a kiss on her head. She stiffened at first, and slowly began to relax into him, Her head on his shoulder and he grasped hand with his left. They sat for a long time staring into the fireplace, not speaking.
When Granger finally rose to go back to her room for a bit before dinner, Tom flicked his finger at Orion Black, and he headed toward his own room. He needed a word alone with the fourth year.
He unwarded the door and gestured Black to enter before him. Tom shut the door softly behind him.
"Calanthe Burke," Tom said by way of greeting.
Black swallowed hard, "My first cousin, sir."
"That's what I thought. I need to know how to get to her."
"Wh-What do you mean?"
"She's to be expelled. I'd like to have… a conversation with her. How will I find her to have this conversation once she's been expelled," Tom explained.
"Oh, right, well, her family lives in Suffolk, near Stowmarket. Burke Hall. I've only been once, sir."
"Good enough, thanks Black," Tom dismissed the boy with a wave of his hand.
It was Wednesday and the next Hogsmeade weekend wasn't for two more weeks. Plenty of time for her to be suspended, for Tom to argue for her expulsion and her return home for good. Then he'd take a few of his most trusted Knights to teach Burke a lesson. He couldn't wait to hear her scream.
Chapter 8: Fire Crabs Are Dangerous
October 9, 1944
Hermione huffed a sigh as Tom once again grabbed her bag off her shoulder and slung it over his own. She had tried to sneak out of the common room on her way to breakfast without Tom noticing. He must have some spies somewhere, because halfway to the Great Hall, Tom caught up with her. He didn't say a word, just grabbed her bag, and her hand and they continued walking to breakfast.
She was uncomfortable with how friendly Tom was being, but if she was isolated before her fall, she was even more so now. Hermione was positive Tom had something to do with it. Her roommates ignored her, but some of the other seventh years would talk with her in class, or partner with her. That's all stopped. Tom was her only class partner, and now, the only people Hermione talked to were Tom, Armando, and the other professors. She was lonely.
"Listen, Tom, you have good intentions. I get it, but I need you to back, off," Hermione muttered as they entered the Great Hall.
"I think you know I can't do that, Hermione," Tom said pleasantly as he fixed her a cuppa. Just how she liked it. She was annoyed that he paid such close attention to her that he knew how she took her tea in the morning.
"Do you know the only people I interact with on a day-to-day basis are you and the other professors? Nobody else will even talk to me," Hermione complained as she bit into her toast.
"What did you do?" Hermione asked.
"Me? Nothing at all," Tom said with a false look of innocence.
Hermione wasn't stupid though. She knew he did something, but didn't know what. She thought about all of the other seventh years. The boys had never said a word to her and had left her alone from the beginning. It was the girls who used to talk to her. But now they didn't, why? Hermione was determined to figure out what exactly Tom had done and find someone who would talk to her. Maybe a Gryffindor? Minerva McGonagall was Head Girl this year, Hermione had made a few overtures, but they were all rebuffed. She would have to try harder. Maybe see if she could corner Minerva somewhere.
"What are you thinking about?" Tom asked with narrowed eyes.
"Me? Nothing at all," Hermione replied with a bland smile.
October 9, 1944
Hermione scowled as she felt a pinch in her wrist that meant someone had broken through one of the many layered wards she had put on her wardrobe. She finally had some alone study time in the library. She didn't know where Tom was, and frankly didn't care. He wasn't shadowing her for once, that's all that mattered. Another pinch and another ward went down. She stood quickly and packed up her books.
Walking quickly out of the library and down the stairs, she felt a third pinch. There were only two more wards protecting her wardrobe now. They were the most advanced, ones she'd laid into runes, but getting through the first three as quickly as they had was fairly impressive. She wondered if it was a roommate or Tom. Her money was on Tom.
She started to run when the fourth pinch hit and skidded to a halt in front of the entrance to the Slytherin common room. She whispered the password and hustled down the corridor to the seventh year girls dormitory. She noted that each of her roommates was in the common room. That meant Tom.
Bursting through the door of her room, with her wand drawn Hermione said, "Time's up, Tom. Step away from my armoire."
She ran the length of the room and entered her little cubicle to find Tom in his shirtsleeves with his wand pointed at the wardrobe. He had a light sheen of sweat on his forehead and his usually perfectly coiffed hair was mussed. Hermione smirked to see him looking so disheveled.
"Interesting," Tom murmured as he waved his wand again.
"Don't make me disarm you," Hermione threatened. She and Tom had never dueled, she had avoided it as much as possible. She knew she dueled like she had fought in a war, because she had. Even in Defense class, she was careful to keep her dueling academic.
Tom finally turned to face her, dropping his wand to his side. The last ward held as the magic swirled away.
"What do you have in here that's so important?" he asked her. "I know your secrets, you need hide nothing from me."
Hermione narrowed her eyes and didn't lower her wand. "It's none of your business, Tom."
"Is it more books from the future?"
Hermione took a step closer to him, the tip of her wand now touching his chest.
"Or perhaps you are hiding some sort of Muggle technology from the future?"
Hermione's eyes widened briefly, how did he know she was Muggleborn? The tip of her wand, dipped slightly.
"Or…" Tom asked silkily as he batted her wand away from his chest and stepped closer to her, "Could it be some very naughty knickers?" His hand snaked around her waist and he pulled her to him.
Hermione so desperately wanted to fight him off, but the way his body felt against hers, firm and strong was overpowering her senses. She placed her hands on his chest, intent on pushing him away, but he pulled her even closer, mashing their bodies together as he leaned down to whisper in her ear.
"Is it knickers, Hermione? Is that what you are so desperate to hide from me?" His voice was buttery and smooth and Hermione wanted to stay strong, to not show her attraction to him.
"Maybe you could show me sometime?" his breath hot in her ear.
Hermione couldn't stop the moan that escaped her lips. She tightened them as soon as she realized the sound had come from her. She opened her eyes, when had she closed them? She wasn't sure and Tom licked her earlobe, pulling it inside his hot mouth and Hermione's eyes slid closed once more. The second moan was louder than the first. The hands that had been pressed against Tom's chest, insistent on pushing him away, were now clutched in his robes, holding on, or pulling him closer.
He trailed hot kisses down the column of her throat and Hermione tipped her head back to give him better access. One of the arms that had been around her waist slid up and a hand cradled her head as his lips descended on her own.
His lips tasted like fire and danger and Hermione knew, she knew, she shouldn't be doing this. But she couldn't stop. She couldn't make herself pull away from him. He felt so good, his hard, lean body pressed against her smaller, softer, curvier one. He bit her bottom lip, then soothed it with his tongue. She gasped at the liquid feel of it. He took advantage, thrusting his tongue inside her mouth.
She tried to stay neutral, to not kiss him back, but she couldn't help it. Not when he tangled his tongue in hers. He tasted like the darkest night and the brightest day and he was totally intoxicating. Soon, she was kissing him back with equal fervor, dipping her own tongue into his mouth and winding her right hand in his hair.
Slowly, Tom pulled away and when Hermione opened her eyes, the fire burning in his blew her away. He looked at her as if he were an addict and she were his drug.
"I - I shouldn't have done that," Hermione stammered jumping back and out of his arms as if he were burning her. She felt bereft and cold standing by herself and she wrapped her arms around herself.
Tom didn't say a word, his face went from seductive, enthralling pleasure to a blank slate in a matter of moments. He tucked his wand into his wrist holster and swept out of Hermione's cubicle and out of room.
Hermione felt numb and confused.
What was that? Kissing Viktor and Ron had never been like that. Kissing them had been nice, and had even aroused Hermione, but that? That was like being swept away in fire, it was exhilarating and hypnotic and spellbinding. Had Tom not pulled away, Hermione was sure she could have kissed him forever. It felt as if that was all she needed in life, that he was all she needed. And it terrified her.
Slowly, she sank onto bed, as she her limbs began to tremble. Lady jumped up and curled herself on Hermione's lap. Hermione felt flush and weak and cold. So cold. She shivered and crawled under the covers, craving Lady's warmth. She pet the animal absently as she thought over everything that had transpired since she found herself back in the past.
She had looked through her beaded bag since she had woken back in June, but the potion she had made was no longer viable. At the time, she had just added it to her list of things to do. It had taken her most of the summer to recover from her year on the run and her travel back through time. Then the school year started, and with taking eight NEWT-level classes, Hermione hadn't had much time for extra projects beyond the one she was always working on of trying to get back to 1998. Since, she was getting nowhere on getting back to the present, maybe she should table work on this Anamoran thing.
She should at least know how many she had. She could guess, by trying to add up all the times she had saved someone's life. But, she had no idea who died in the Final Battle. It only counted if the debt went unpaid. Which meant the debtor had to be dead, even though all of the debtors thus far hadn't even been born yet. What did that tell her? Were Armando and Professor Dumbledore right? Had she truly moved timelines? It might be the only thing to explain the way the Anamoran was working.
Hermione closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. Lady stood to stretch and headbutted her hand, begging for pets again. Hermione was confused, time travel and Anamoran were confusing topics.
Tom Riddle was the most confusing thing of all.
October 13, 1944
Hermione felt the pinch of a ward falling in her right wrist, again. She frowned at it, then looked up and down the Slytherin table, not seeing Tom. She hadn't even noticed. She assumed he was ignoring her still. Just as he had since Monday… since their kiss. Even thinking about it had Hermione blushing. Another twinge of pain at her wrist, had Hermione leaping off the bench.
She gathered her bag and groaned at the weight of it, as she had all week. She'd gotten so used to Tom carrying it, she'd begun packing it fuller and fuller, as a sort of protest. But now, she didn't know what to take out. She sighed as she hustled out of the Great Hall and down to the dungeons. She had about thirty minutes until she had to get out to Care of Magical Creatures.
This time she knew it was Tom.
She just couldn't figure out why he cared so much. She didn't actually keep anything incriminating in her wardrobe. It was force of habit that made her ward it. Gryffindors were famous for pranking each other. She didn't know if Slytherins were the same, but as the new girl, she figured it was the smart move to ward her items.
The third pinch distracted her as she entered the Slytherin common room. She walked quickly back down the hallway to the seventh year girls dormitory. Everyone was at lunch still. Except Tom. And Hermione. She frowned just before she entered her room. She'd not only added more wards to her wardrobe, she'd changed the ones she originally had. Was this a game? Was he trying to get her attention? Why?
She opened the door and stalked over to her cubicle. She didn't bother brandishing her wand this time.
"Tom," she greeted coolly.
"Damn, witch," Tom mumbled when his concentration broke.
"Blood wards. I feel every one you take down," Hermione shrugged at him. He'd only gotten through three of them this time. Hermione had put up ten instead of the five she originally had.
"What are you hiding?" Tom asked as he narrowed his eyes and turned his attention to her. Hermione eyed the wand he still held and he rolled his eyes and tucked it up into the holster she knew he wore on his forearm.
"It's none of your business," Hermione responded. She wasn't hiding anything. Not in her wardrobe. It was all in the beaded bag that she wore tucked into a hidden pocket in her skirt.
"I will find out," Tom threatened.
Hermione shrugged once more. Not if she had anything to say about it. She was a little confused why he didn't realize she kept all of the incriminating things from the future on her at all times. He knew about the beaded bag, she'd shown it to him that first time, though she hadn't mentioned it since.
"Who keeps letting you in here?" Hermione asked him.
The Gryffindor boys weren't allowed in the girls dorms. She had assumed all houses were the same. Tom pointed to the shiny pin on his chest.
"Head Boy," he smirked.
Hermione rolled her eyes, of course the Head Boy could enter the girls dormitory. Head Boy's were exemplary members of the community, unless they were mini-Voldemort's.
"You won't get past my wards," Hermione told him as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Not today, I guess. I was really hoping to see some knickers, too," Tom replied as his eyes grew bright and he stepped toward her. Hermione found herself backing away from him and soon had her desk at her back.
"This isn't a good idea," Hermione said as Tom placed his hands on her waist. He lifted her and set her on the edge of the desk.
"I think it is," Tom replied as he thrust a leg between both of hers, pushing her knees aside to make room for him.
"It's not," Hermione insisted, even as her own hands clutched at the robes he wore and pulled him to her.
"Is," Tom replied, his breath ghosting over her lips, just before he captured them with his own.
Hermione's heart thudded loudly in her ears, and her bones went liquid at his touch. His grip on her waist tightened and he pulled her to him. Suddenly, she could feel him through her robes, pressing insistently at her stomach as he ravaged her mouth. Hermione moaned at the feeling, of his hard body, his length, and the taste of his kisses. She couldn't get enough of him. She didn't want to get enough of him. He slid a hand from her waist and buried it in her curls, tilting her head back.
Hermione lifted her right leg and wrapped it around his waist, pulling him closer as he laid her back over the desk. His left hand, traveled north and cupped her breast. He pinched and rolled her nipple through her clothes. A wave of lust rolled through her: heat pooled in her abdomen and her knickers grew slick. He began kissing down her throat, unbuttoning her top as he went.
"Tom," she moaned breathlessly as his mouth closed over her right nipple through her bra. She gripped his head, holding him to her breast and arched her back, tightening her legs around his waist.
"Avens," he growled into her chest, peppering her with kisses.
"Hello…?" a voice called from the doorway of the dorm room.
"Someone in here?" the voice called again.
Tom had Hermione's nipple in his mouth and as delicious as that felt, she really didn't want to be caught. She pushed at his head, and Tom looked at her, his eyes glazed with lust. Hermione bit her bottom lip, he was looking at her like he wanted to devour her and she wanted to let him.
"Granger? Is that you?" the voice was closer this time.
And Tom heard it. His eyes widened momentarily before his blank mask slid into place. He pulled her up so she was standing and began arranging her clothes. Hermione tried to smooth her hair.
"Oh, Granger, Tom," Charis Yaxley said from the opening in Hermione's cubicle. "You startled me. I heard noises when I came in." She narrowed her eyes, "What were you doing?"
"I was just picking up Hermione's bag for Care of Magical Creatures. Which is…" he trailed off and glanced at his watch, "starting in a few minutes. Come along, Hermione." He swept past Yaxley, pulling Hermione after him and twining his fingers around hers.
"Bye, Yaxley," Hermione said over her shoulder as she followed Tom.
That had been close.
Tom led her out of the castle to where their practical lesson was taking place. The chilly air, calmed Hermione and slowed down her beating heart. She was trying to get her head focussed for the upcoming lesson. They were doing fire crabs, which were gorgeous creatures, but could be dangerous. She would worry about what was going on between her and Tom later.
Professor Kettleburn was waiting for them, looking quite a bit more whole than he did in her time. Kettleburn ushered them to the warmed paddock where there were several fire crabs walking around, their jeweled shells were winking and twinkling in the bright sunlight. Hermione had never seen a fire crab before and she was a little in awe of how beautiful they were.
Tom slowed his pace and was walking beside her. Hermione lamented the fact that she had left her cloak inside in the rush to escape Yaxley's questions. The second time her teeth chattered, Tom rolled his eyes and cast a warming charm at her.
"Thanks," Hermione muttered. Even after all these years in the wizarding world, sometimes she forgot things like warming charms.
Tom slid his wand away as he pushed the gate of the paddock open. They weren't the last students to join the class, but it was close.
"Alright. Fire crabs are pretty docile," Professor Kettleburn pointed to the group milling around behind him. "But don't startle them or it'll shoot fire out its arse. Grab a bucket, we'll be feeding them today."
There was some snorting from the class, but Tom's glare put a stop to it. It was Hermione's turn to roll her eyes.
"Pair up, two to a crab," the professor shouted. Tom led her to the far side of the paddock where the largest crab was clicking it's pincers at the fence. The crab was gorgeous with brilliant emeralds littering its shell.
Tom tsked and the crab turned from the fence and cocked it's head at Tom. Tom dug his hand into the bucket and held up a fish head. The crab scuttled forward and Tom tossed the fish head. The crab nipped it out of the air, gobbling it down.
Hermione sighed as she pulled out a bit of parchment and began taking notes.
"What makes them emit fire?" Hermione asked.
"It's a defense mechanism," Tom said. "Scare them or make them angry, and you've got a problem."
"Is it like dragon fire?"
"I don't think so, it's not so hard to put out."
Hermione nodded as she continued taking down notes for the both of them. Tom finished feeding their crab and the crab went back to the fenceline.
"Well, I —"
Hermione felt a throb in her left calf, "What?" she looked down and her eyes widened in horror. Her calf was on fire, before she could even scream, she was engulfed in searing hot flames.
Hermione took a deep breath and put her hands on Buckbeak's back and Harry gave her a leg up. Then he clambered up, sitting in front of her.
"Ready?" Harry whispered. "You'd better hold on to me —"
Harry nudged Buckbeak and the hippogriff soared into the dark air. Hermione held tightly to Harry, wrapping her arms around his middle and pushing her face into his back, keeping her eyes tightly closed. She hated flying.
"Oh, no — I don't like this — oh, I really don't like this —" Hermione muttered to herself.
They glided higher and higher, then Harry was pulling hard and Buckbeak turned.
"Whoa!" he said.
Buckbeak slowed and they found themselves at a stop, hovering in the air.
"He's there!" Harry said, spotting Sirius as they rose up beside the window. Hermione reached out, and tapped sharply on the glass.
Sirius looked up. Hermione saw his jaw drop and he leapt from his chair, hurrying to the window.
"Stand back! Alohomora!" she shouted and the window sprang open.
"How — how —?" said Sirius, staring at the hippogriff.
"Get on — there's not much time," said Harry. "You've got to get out of here — the dementors are coming — Macnair's gone to get them."
Sirius placed a hand on either side of the window frame and heaved his head and shoulders out of it. In seconds, he managed to fling one leg over Buckbeak's back and pull himself onto the hippogriff behind Hermione. Gripping her waist very tightly.
"Okay, Buckbeak, up!" Harry shouted, shaking the rope. "Up to the tower — come on!"
The hippogriff swept his huge wings and Hermione shrieked and renewed her hold on Harry as they rose higher.
Buckbeak landed with a clatter on the battlements and Harry and Hermione slid off him at once.
"Sirius, you'd better go, quick," Harry panted. "They'll reach Flitwick's office any moment, they'll find out you're gone."
Buckbeak pawed the ground, tossing his sharp head.
"How can I ever thank —"
"GO!" Harry and Hermione shouted together. Sirius wheeled Buckbeak around.
"You are — truly your father's son, Harry…" he said.
Sirius squeezed Buckbeak's sides and Harry and Hermione jumped back as the enormous wings rose once more. Buckbeak and his rider became smaller and smaller as Harry and Hermione gazed after them. Then they were gone.
Chapter 9: Tom Is More Dangerous
October 13, 1944
Tom's eyes widened as Granger became engulfed in the flame from the fire crab. He snapped his eyes to see who's animal it was an narrowed them on two Hufflepuff's Herbert Smith and Albert Higgs. He took a mental note and turned his attention back to Granger who was now lying on her side, curled into herself as the flames enveloped her. Fire crabs weren't dragons, Tom felt pretty safe in casting an Aguamenti at her. He was relieved when the spell began dampening the flames.
"What happened here?" Kettleburn asked, rushing over.
"Smith and Higgs antagonized their crab and Granger is paying for it," Tom snapped as he directed the flow of water from his wand down toward her feet. He'd concentrated on getting the flames stopped near her head and vital organs first. The sickly sweet smell of burnt flesh and hair was thick in the air and Tom saw that some of the girls were crying. It was a horrific sight, Granger's clothes were melted and burned into her skin. She was letting out a low moaning keen, and her glorious hair was burned and sticking at odd ends out of her scalp. Tom took a deep breath, he'd seen worse. He wouldn't let this affect him.
His heart hammered in his chest as he gently levitated Hermione and began rushing with her to the Hospital Wing.
"Malfoy, Nott, clear the way for Riddle," Kettleburn snapped. Tom was grateful for the assistance as Abraxas and Thoros ran ahead. It was hard enough keeping Hermione level as he pushed her to the castle. He didn't need mobs of people asking what happened.
"It's going to be ok, Avens," Tom whispered as he followed his two Knights. "Madam Davies will have you patched up in no time."
"Tom," she gasped, and tried to open one eye, but her skin was sticking together. Tom's stomach rolled at the sight.
"Don't try to talk, it's okay," Tom said. "It'll be okay."
"MADAM DAVIES!" Abraxas shouted as he pushed the double doors of the castle open. The three boys sprinted up the stairs to the second floor, taking the stairs three at a time. Abraxas calling for Madam Davies the entire way.
"What is the meaning of this, Mr Malfoy?" Madam Davies snapped.
Then her eyes widened in horror as she took in Granger's condition. Tom gritted his teeth as a lump formed in his throat. Granger's had been pushed from eight stories and had survived. She could survive this too. She had to. Or Tom's future plans were all destroyed. That was the only reason Tom was upset. Or so he tried to convince himself.
"Dear Merlin above," Madam Davies breathed as she began casting diagnostic charms over Granger.
"Should I set her down somewhere?" Tom panted. The Mobilicorpus took a lot of magical energy to hold for long.
"No, not yet. Mr Malfoy, Mr Nott, cast your own Mobilicorpus to take some of the weight from Mr Riddle. It's best if I can peel her clothes off and get some healing in before laying her in a bed," Madam Davies directed. Tom didn't like the thought of Abraxas or Thoros seeing as much as Granger as they were about to, but he didn't have much of a choice, he could feel his energy flagging.
As soon as his Knights spells took hold, Tom felt the strain on his own magic lessen and he sighed in relief. He took a deep breath as Madam Davies slowly began to peel Granger's clothes off of her.
"N-N-No," Granger groaned lowly as Madam Davies started at her boots, where she was burnt the worst. Tom felt the bile rise in his throat, the smell of burnt flesh was starting to make him feel sick. He didn't want to watch as Madam Davies separated her clothing from her ruined skin.
Granger's moans quickly turned into screams as Madam Davies peeled more and more layers of burnt cloth from her flesh. Tom gritted his teeth and tried to look away, but he couldn't, he couldn't make himself. He wished he could take this pain from her.
"Gods, can't you give her a numbing charm or something?" Abraxas muttered.
Tom spared his Knight a glance and didn't like how pale he looked. Abraxas looked as if he were about to faint.
"Abraxas," Tom snapped a warning in his best Lord Voldemort voice.
"Sorry, Tom," Abraxas muttered and squared his shoulders.
"How much longer?" Tom asked Madam Davies.
"This is the worst of it, almost finished," Madam Davies said as she made a very precise cut with her wand up Granger's tights. The skirt and tights had fused together and Tom imagined her knickers were also fused. And to think, a few moments earlier he had been about to dip a hand into her knickers. He shook his head at his thoughts. He had to concentrate.
Suddenly, Tom felt even more of Granger's weight lessen. He turned to find both Dippet and Dumbledore trotting forward, wands pointed at Granger.
"You boys can let go now," Dumbledore said. "The headmaster and I have her weight entirely."
Tom nodded and dropped his wand, ending the spell as Thoros and Abraxas did the same. He swayed on his feet but managed to stay upright. He glared at Thoros and Abraxas until they both turned away from Granger. Tom couldn't make himself.
"Mr Riddle," Dumbledore began.
"Oh, the boy's worried for her, Albus," Dippet waved him off.
"Why don't you three take a break. Go sit near the door," Dumbledore suggested.
Tom didn't want to leave Granger, but he couldn't fall over in front of his Knights either. The three of them stepped away from where the medi-witch was still working on stripping Granger.
Granger must have passed out at some point because screams had dwindled back to moans. Tom never wanted to hear her scream like that again, it had chilled his blood to hear it. Which seemed odd to him, he'd tortured many people before and usually liked hearing his victims scream. Was it because Hermione wasn't his victim? At least not in that sense? That had to be it. It certainly couldn't be because he was feeling something for her. He didn't feel. It was a rule he'd made as a child and had served him well over the years.
Tom sat on the bed opposite of Abraxas and Thoros and closed his eyes. Tomorrow was a Hogsmeade weekend, he'd had plans to visit Suffolk and Burke Hall. Maybe he should cancel them? Granger wouldn't be leaving the Hospital Wing anytime soon. If she survived, an insidious little voice in his head whispered. Tom swallowed. She would survive. She had to. Something about her made her survive and Tom hadn't learned all her secrets yet.
Coming to a decision, Tom stood quickly, "Come along," he said to Abraxas and Thoros, then strode out of the Hospital Wing and headed for the Slytherin common room. He would allow a few of his Knights to partake in the fun tomorrow. It would prove useful. Good practice for his Knights.
October 14, 1944
Tom had been by the Hospital Wing early before breakfast had begun to see Granger. She was in a medically induced coma. Madam Davies had taken pity on him for once and had shared Granger's condition with him. More than sixty-five percent of her body had been burnt. Tom swallowed hard when he heard that. How had she survived? Tom was convinced that something else was going on to ensure her survival.
"How long will the coma last?" Tom asked Madam Davies.
"Until she's regrown most of her skin. Skin takes a long time and is much more complicated to regrow than a bone. A week or more, I think," Madam Davies said.
"A week?" Tom missed Granger. It wasn't a feeling he was used to. He hadn't spoken to her at all in the last week because of their kiss on Monday. He still wasn't sure how he felt about it. Or their subsequent snogging yesterday. Part of him wanted to keep her for his own and never let her go, even if that meant in a romantic relationship. The other part sneered at romance. She'd be like any other woman he'd fucked, he was sure. Even the whores became clingy and needy after Tom fucked them. He couldn't imagine what a normal girl would do. He had to keep that in mind. He had to keep his hands off Granger. Or, at least keep his cock in his pants. He shook his head at those thoughts and squeezed Granger's hand one last time.
Madam Davies had washed her hair and cleaned up the ends so it was no longer burnt. But it was short and stuck out at all angles, surrounding her head. It looked awful. Tom sighed when he saw it. He had loved her hair. He had daydreams of thrusting his hands into it and snogging her senseless. Hell, he'd done that very thing just yesterday. Tom's resolve hardened as he looked down at her.
"Burke will be paying today. And if I have time, both Smith and Higgs as well," Tom promised Granger, then he swept out of the Hospital Wing.
Tom, Abraxas, and Thoros stepped into the alley behind Honeydukes. They'd put in a token appearance at Hogsmeade and were now planning to Apparate to Suffolk.
"Neither of you have been to Burke Hall?" Tom asked his Knights.
Both shook their heads and Tom sighed. What was the point of currying favor with the pure-bloods when they were this unhelpful? Tom sighed.
"I'll Apparate us to Stowmarket and we can ask for directions when we get there." He grasped each of his followers' shoulders and turned to his left and they were gone.
When Tom rematerialized he found himself at the edge of a small village. Stowmarket was a wizarding village. Tom didn't wait for Abraxas or Thoros to catch their breath as he strode forward and headed into the small town.
He came upon the Owl Post and entered. An older witch with iron-grey hair and skinny as a rail greeted him.
"Good Morning, madam," Tom said with a small bow. "I'm looking for Burke Hall and was hoping you could point me in the appropriate direction."
"What do you want with them?" she asked suspiciously.
"I am a friend of Calanthe's from school. She's gotten in a spot of trouble, I'm sure you've heard…" Tom trailed off.
The postal mistress pursed her lips and nodded her head.
"It's a Hogsmeade weekend, and I've been sweet on Calanthe for months. I just wanted to see her," Tom said giving her his most innocent look. The look every adult in his life fell for. Every single time. He would have rolled his eyes if the postal mistress wasn't still eyeing him with some suspicion.
"It's on the north edge of town. Has about ten gables, and a big iron fence out front with a scrollwork B in it. You can't miss it," she muttered and turned away to tend her owls in the back.
"Thank you, madam," Tom said with another little bow and waltzed out of the Owl Post office.
Abraxas and Thoros were both waiting for him, Tom flicked his hand and headed north. Tom nodded and smiled at everyone they passed. Better to blend in when the news of the youngest Burke child reached the town. Tom almost grinned despite himself, yesterday had been awful. He was ready for a spot of torture to lighten his mood.
The postmistress was right, the ostentation of Burke Hall was impossible to miss.
"Let's go," Tom muttered as he pushed the gate open.
A tiny house elf answered the knock on the door.
"Miss Calanthe Burke, please," Tom said imperiously.
The elf nodded and waved them forward, telling them to wait in the entrance hall.
Calanthe Burke bounded down the stairs, no doubt ecstatic that she had received some visitors after her expulsion from Hogwarts.
"T-Tom," Calanthe stuttered as she skittered to a halt in front of him.
"Miss Burke," Tom bowed and grinned at her. He watched the tension in her shoulders leave and he almost didn't stop the snort that wanted to find a way out at how trusting and naive she was.
"Abraxas, Thoros," Calanthe bobbed a curtsy to them. "Would you like a refreshment?"
"I was hoping you'd accompany me on a walk?" Tom asked extending his hand to the girl.
Predictably she lit up.
"Mama! I'm going out!" Calanthe called up the stairs.
Then she stepped forward and grasped Tom's hand. Tom tucked it into his arm and led her from the house and down the path toward the road beyond.
"I'm sorry you were expelled," Tom said with false sincerity.
Abraxas and Thoros trailed behind them, silently.
"It's alright. It was pretty silly of me," Calanthe giggled.
Tom's teeth clenched at the inane giggling.
"Indeed," Tom hummed as they exited out the gate of the Burke estate and toward the countryside beyond.
"Have you been to Suffolk before?" Calanthe asked. Burke Hall was still in sight, but a curve of the road coming up meant it wouldn't be for much longer.
"I haven't had the pleasure. Maybe you could show me the sights?"
Calanthe blushed. Tom wanted to roll his eyes once more. This is exactly why he didn't bother with girls. Granger was nothing like girls like Calanthe Burke, a voice inside his head told him. Tom buried that thought. He wouldn't think of Granger today. Not beyond what Calanthe had tried to do to her anyway. Soon, they had rounded the curve in the road and Burke Hall was no longer in sight.
"You know where to meet me," Tom called out to Abraxas and Thoros who were still trailing them. "I have something special for you, Burke," Tom growled as he turned to his left and Apparated them away.
Tom and Calanthe reappeared in the middle of a clearing. It was a place Tom had found three years ago, in the Forbidden Forest. He'd warded it to keep most of the sentient creatures who wandered the forest away. It had worked, he and his Knights had never been disturbed when coming here to practice.
"Tom?" Calanthe asked even as Tom shoved her from him and she fell on the ground.
"You think you were going to get away with trying to kill, Granger? I am courting her. She is mine."
Abraxas and Thoros showed up and Tom grinned.
"Practice time," Tom said.
"What would you like to see, my lord?" Abraxas asked.
"Why don't you show me your creativity?" Tom responded.
"With pleasure, my lord," Abraxas bowed to Tom and Tom relished in the pleasure of having the proper, snooty pure-blood bowing to him.
"Lord? Abraxas? What is going on?" Calanthe asked, fear creeping into her voice for the first time.
"You aren't going to enjoy this, Burke," Tom assured her.
Calanthe cringed away from the cold tone in Tom's voice.
"I've been practicing my slicing hexes," Abraxas smiled at Calanthe. "It'll be easier if you're naked, Burke. Do you need help?"
"I'm not taking my clothes off!" Calanthe shouted.
"So be it," Abraxas shrugged and nodded at Thoros.
Thoros flicked his wand and Calanthe was nude in front of them. Her hands and legs tied spread eagle to the ground as she lay on her back. She shivered in the cold and Tom grinned. Her blood would flow slower in the cold, which meant they could keep her alive longer. Tom couldn't wait for the screaming to begin.
Abraxas' first hex hit Calanthe's belly and a thin red line appeared, blood slowly swelling and then dripping down her sides toward the forest floor below.
"Ah, that hurt!" Calanthe shouted at Abraxas.
"That's the point," Thoros muttered. He threw his own slicing hex, this one took Calanthe in the shoulder. Calanthe screamed. Tom smiled.
October 18, 1944
Tom strolled into the Hospital Wing and was surprised to find Granger awake and sitting up in her bed. Madam Davies had said she'd be out for a week or more. And here it was, a short five days later and she was awake.
"Tom," she smiled at him tiredly as he hurried over and gripped her hand.
He reached out with his right hand and brushed some of the fuzz that had grown a little longer, out of her eyes.
"Avens," he smiled softly at her and her smile brightened. "How are you?"
"Tired, sore, in pain," Granger laughed. "We should stop meeting like this."
Tom's smile tightened. He hadn't had a chance to deal with Higgs and Smith in the way he had dealt with Burke. It was easier because Burke wasn't at school. Higgs and Smith would have to happen over break, Tom had promised himself.
"I've been taking notes for you, and I have all your assignments," Tom said, changing the subject. "Has Madam Davies said when you'll be allowed to leave?"
"Not for a week or so, she thinks," Granger replied. "I'm dead bored though, I've been awake since noon and have nothing to read."
Tom chuckled lowly and pulled out the sheaf of parchment he had duplicated for her.
"Thank you!" Granger's eyes lit up as she eagerly grabbed the parchment and began rifling through it.
"Alright, Mr Riddle. She's had enough excitement for the day," Madam Davies said and shooed Tom out of the Hospital Wing.
Tom squeezed Granger's hand one last time before leaving. He still had her beaded bag and wasn't done going through it yet. So he was glad he had more time.
That evening, Tom squirreled himself away in his room as he finished going through items in Granger's beaded bag. She kept everything in there, clothes that were obviously from the future. Women would be scandalized to be seen in such things. He had even found a pair of lacy knickers and had a very pleasant daydream of watching Granger peel them off herself as Tom watched from his bed.
Tom shook himself as he turned his attention back to her books. She seemed to have an inordinate amount of books on the esoteric subject of Anamoran. Tom hadn't even heard of it until reading some of Granger's books. It was essentially translated as 'extra-soul' and was what happened when a life debt went unpaid. Is that how she survived two accidents that should have killed her? How many life debts would she have to incur for that to happen? Tom vowed to ask her about it when she was out of the Hospital Wing. He didn't want to jeopardize her recovery, but he had many questions.
He was especially interested in the potion he had read about that would tell you how much Anamoran you had. He wondered how that worked. Did each soul give you one unit of Anamoran for a life debt? Did they add together? It was a confusing subject that Tom didn't have any experience in. Most of the books in Hermione's bag were printed after 1944, it was no wonder she kept them hidden.
The other very interesting item was the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw. How did Hermione come to have it? It was rumored to have been lost for hundreds of years. Did that mean there were two copies of it now? Tom didn't know. But he did know that the diadem called to him. He dreamt about it and had taken to sleeping with it. There was something about it that felt dark and dangerous and aligned with his magic. Hopefully, Granger's wouldn't notice it missing. Because he wasn't sure he couldn't part with it.
October 30, 1944
Tom sat at the desk in his room, turning the diadem over and over again, trying to figure out its secrets when someone knocked on his door. He jumped and had his wand pointed at the door before he realized where he was. He carefully tucked the diadem into the beaded bag and let it sit on his desk as he answered the door. Granger stood before him and Tom hid his shock. Her hair still too short, but getting longer.
"Hello, Tom," she greeted him pleasantly.
"You're out," Tom replied, stupidly.
"I'm out," Granger's agreed. "I think you have something of mine." She pointed behind him to where he'd left the beaded bag.
Tom considered her for a moment and backed away, letting her in. This was a good a place as any to confront her about what he knew.
"How many life debts have you accrued?" Tom asked as Granger's was halfway across the room.
She stopped suddenly and jerked around to look at him.
"Life debts, Anamoran? All the books you have in your bag," Tom gestured.
Granger looked horrified and lunged to the desk, snatching the bag off of it. Tom grabbed her wrist and held it tightly, she dropped the bag in shock and Tom grabbed it before it fell.
"I don't think you'll be taking all of this from me," Tom said. He reached his hand in the bag and fished around until his fingers came into contact with the diadem. He pulled it out and held it in his hand, admiring the beauty in the candlelight of his room.
"T-Tom," Granger breathed. "I think…"
"Now, now, Hermione. Finders keepers, you remember that from childhood right?" Tom grinned at her.
"That's not how this works," Granger glared at him and wrenched her wrist away from his. The diadem had distracted him and he hadn't realized he'd loosened his grip.
"That is mine," Granger pointed at the diadem he held, even as she bent to retrieve the beaded bag where it had fallen. "What else have you taken?"
"Oh, it's all there. I've read the books though. So how much Anamoran? I'm assuming you made the potion?"
"I didn't have time," Granger hissed. Tom was still eyeing the diadem and missed that she had leveled her wand at him. "I'll hex you," she warned.
Tom finally tore his eyes from the beautiful piece of jewelry and met Granger's brown ones. She looked… frightened. Her eyes were wide and her pupils so large they made her eyes look almost totally black.
Granger took that moment to act. She snatched the diadem from Tom, pushed his chest, and sent a stinging hex at his arse. Then she tore out of the room. Tom heard a sob escape as his door slammed shut behind her.
Tom rubbed his chest where she had pushed him and stared dumbly at his closed door. What had happened? Why had she reacted like that?
He vowed he would find out as he stood. He stalked out of the Slytherin common room, muttering Point Me spells to track her down.
Chapter 10: The Second Attempt
October 30, 1944
Tears streamed down Hermione's face and her lungs burned as she sprinted up every flight of stairs until she was on the seventh floor. She paced in front of the tapestry of trolls dancing ballet and finally caught her breath when the Room of Requirement appeared. She wrenched the door open and found herself in a simulacrum of the Gryffindor common room. Tears dried on her face as she curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace. What was she going to do? Tom had found a Horcrux his future self had made. She felt like throwing up when she'd seen it in his hand.
Most of the time she forgot who Tom was, but seeing him hold that diadem had been the shock she needed. She had to stay away from Tom Riddle. He was dangerous and not good for her health. She'd had two near-death experiences just in a few short months. The fire crab was probably an accident. But that didn't stop Hermione from thinking that maybe, just maybe it wasn't? Maybe it was someone else like Calanthe Burke who wanted her out of the way.
Hermione didn't want all the attention Tom insisted on showing her. If only someone, anyone else would speak with her. But Tom had gotten there first. He'd claimed her. Hermione shuddered at the thought. She wasn't property to be owned, she was a human, a person who had their own agency.
Hermione sat up. She had agency. She didn't have to go along with what Tom wanted. She could fight back. She would fight back. She couldn't allow Tom to subsume her as he did all his followers. That way led to madness.
Feeling better than she had in a long time, Hermione settled in to read. Let Tom cool off before she went back to the Slytherin common room. Maybe she'd even spend the night in the Room of Requirement and start over fresh tomorrow. That decided, she called for a house elf and ordered herself some dinner.
October 31, 1944
Hermione woke and peered around her blearily. She didn't recognize where she was. It wasn't the hospital wing or her dorm in the dungeons. She sat up slowly, what had woken her?
"Avens?" Tom whispered and Hermione whipped around to find him standing at the door to the Room of Requirement. It still looked like the Gryffindor common room. "You were a Gryffindor in the future? Figures," Tom snorted.
He crossed the room and moved her legs to sit on the couch next to her. Then he scooped her legs up to lay across his. Hermione wanted to deny him the intimacy, but she was so tired. She would fight with Tom in the morning. She laid her head back down on the arm of the comfortable couch and fell asleep with Tom running his hands up and down her bare legs in long, soothing strokes. The skin there had been burnt the worst, and while it looked perfectly normal, it was new skin and so it itched desperately. Tom running his hands over it felt heavenly. Hermione slipped back into sleep.
When she woke again, she knew it was daytime. There weren't any windows in the Room of Requirement, but she had that fuzzy feeling of having slept too long. An arm was wrapped around her middle, it's fingers interlaced with her own. She was going to get up when the arm around her tightened and the hips that were pressed into her bum flexed. Whoever was behind her was hard as steel and he began rocking into her bum. Hermione couldn't help it when she pressed her bum back into the length behind her.
"Fuck," Tom muttered in her ear, ruffling Hermione's short hair.
Hermione wanted to leap out of his arms, and she wanted to strip off her shirt and straddle the boy behind her at the same time. The hand holding her own, disentangled and he slid it down to cup her mons, holding her in place as he rocked into the cleft of her bum. Hermione's nether lips tingled. She wriggled, trying to get him to move his fingers.
He obliged her, stroking her firmly through her knickers.
"Tom," Hermione panted out and arched her back into him.
"Like that?" he asked as he slipped his fingers inside her knickers and felt her warmth and wetness.
"Gods, you do," he breathed as his fingers were coated in her essence.
"Yes," Hermione agreed as he slipped a finger into her tight channel.
Hermione reached her free arm back behind her, pulling Tom's head forward and kissed him fiercely. Tom's fingers delved into Hermione's liquid heat and she moaned into his mouth. He made her feel like she was on fire, and she wanted more, needed more.
"Fuck," Tom muttered as he dragged his mouth from hers, kissing along her jaw and nibbling on her earlobe.
"Need you," Hermione gasped as his thumb circled her clit. Tom's other arm worked its way beneath Hermione and grasped her left breast, kneading it and pulling on her nipple. Hermione arched into his hands, her arm behind his neck, scratching and pulling him closer.
"Gods… fuck… Avens..." Tom moaned into her ear as he ground his erection into her bum.
Hermione felt the tension in her coil tighter and tighter as Tom's fingers worked her over. She threw her left leg over his, opening herself completely to him. Tom took advantage and added two more fingers to the one already pumping in and out of her quim. His thumb circled her clit, sometimes lighter, sometimes harder, driving her desire higher and higher.
"Tom, please," she keened.
"Beg… I want to hear you beg…" Tom panted.
"Please, please, fuck," Hermione swore. "Please, I want… I need…" Hermione cried out wordlessly as she tumbled over the edge of her orgasm. Tom's fingers slowed but didn't stop entirely, drawing her orgasm out, her needy channel gripping him over and over again.
"Fuck… that was fucking beautiful. Gods, you're gorgeous," Tom murmured in her ear as she came down from her high.
"Tom," Hermione moaned as his fingers moved inside her once more.
"Feel that?" Tom asked, pressing his hard length into her thigh. She was now lying on her back, with Tom on his side.
Hermione nodded and met Tom's gaze for the first time that morning. He looked as if he were ready to eat her whole as if he couldn't live without taking her right then. She was sure she wouldn't be able to survive if he left now. She reached her left hand down and grasped him through his pajama bottoms. He was big, bigger than she'd experienced in the past.
"Fuck," Tom grunted when her hand closed around him. She gave him a few experimental pumps and was delighted to find out he liked to talk. He dropped 'fucks' and 'gods' and 'Merlins' as she pumped him through his trousers and he leaned down to pepper her face, neck, and chest with kisses, talking all the while.
Hermione had fallen asleep in her knickers and button-up shirt. She blearily remembered Tom coming in in the middle of the night, but couldn't recall what he was wearing. Now it was only a pair of pajama bottoms, he was shirtless. Hermione's own shirt had come completely unbuttoned at some point. She wriggled herself out of her knickers as Tom moved to hover above her. Hermione spread her right hand over his bare chest, smoothing her hand down his muscles, pulling at each flat nipple. Hermione stopped pumping his cock and grasped his pajamas with both hands, pulling them down and over his hips.
She reached down with both hands, grabbing him one on top of the other.
"Fuck… you are going to be the death of me," Tom muttered as he moved his hips in time with her pumps. He had a hand on either side of her head, holding himself above her.
Hermione wanted more. She wanted to watch him as he lost control. She'd never seen him in such an unguarded state and she thought he looked beautiful. She wanted to see what his face looked like when he was coming.
She maneuvered her legs so she was cradling his hips, then moved her hands and wrapped her right leg around him, squeezing him so he dropped, trapping his cock against her wet heat.
She moaned when the head nudged her clit. When he did it again, she arched her back and wrapped her left leg around him too.
"Gods, don't stop," Hermione muttered as he teased her. He slipped just the tip into her tight channel and pulled back out.
"Tease," she whispered even as she arched her back again. He took advantage of her offering and leaned down, sucking her left nipple into his mouth.
Hermione keened at the dual sensations of having her nipple manipulated and his teasing thrusts inside her.
Tom chuckled darkly when she locked her ankles and sent them driving into his bum, turning his little teasing push into a full-blown thrust. He bottomed out inside her and Hermione cried out at the intrusion. She felt full, fuller than she'd ever felt. But it was amazing, it felt good and right and she never wanted him to leave her. Never wanted to know a world in which this cock wasn't inside her. She flexed her hips, canting them and he sank deeper.
"Gods, witch," Tom breathed as he let her left nipple go and kissed his way to her right one. Hermione had her hands tangled in his hair as he licked, nipped, and sucked. He built a rhythm between his cock and his mouth and soon Hermione was on the precipice again. She so desperately wanted to hold off. She wanted to see him when he was free and falling and open. She squeezed the muscles of her pelvic floor and Tom choked out a groan. His smooth, rhythmic strokes lost all semblance of a cadence and he pounded into her, burying his face in her neck.
He was driving into her wildly, panting and kissing and mumbling, "Fuck, gods, mine." Over and over again. Hermione took it, gladly. Even as they both broke into a sweat. She held on as he hammered her mercilessly.
Tom's wild abandon brought Hermione over the edge once more. She cried out his name as he pummeled into her, she dragged her nails down his back and he arched his own back when he came.
"Fuck… gods… witch… mine…" he mumbled as he spurted deep inside her. Soon they both lay on the couch, completely boneless.
Hermione snuggled into Tom's warmth, happy despite who lay atop her. This was her favorite part of sex. After it was all said and done and hearts were slowly winding down and sweat was cooling on skin — snuggling was at its best. Tom tried to leave, but Hermione wrapped her legs and arms around him. If she never got this again, never got to experience this moment with him again, she was going to enjoy it while it lasted. She suspected this bit of human intimacy would be too much for Tom, that he would see it as a weakness and stop talking to her again.
Despite all the problems at the moment, her fear of the future and of ever getting back home. Her worry about Tom and what it might mean for him to have 'met' a future Horcrux, it all paled in comparison to the human connection she felt immediately after sex.
After a few moments, Tom stopped fighting her. His deep sigh ruffled her still too-short hair and he rolled to his side, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close. He waved his hand and a blanket appeared, covering them both. Hermione sighed happily and she kissed his chest as sleep took her.
November 18, 1944
"Do I have to?" Hermione asked as Tom wrapped a Slytherin scarf around her neck and tugged her out of the common room. Professor Slughorn had them make hair growth potion last week, and Hermione had been grateful for the timely lesson. Her fuzz was back to its normal bushy length.
"Yes. Because I have to," Tom replied. He tucked her hand into his and escorted her from the castle.
Slytherin was playing Ravenclaw and it was the first Quidditch match of the year for Slytherin. Hermione didn't care much about Quidditch in her own time, and she cared less about it now. Hopefully, it would be a quick game and she could get out of the cold and back to the warmth of the common room.
It had been a few weeks since Hermione had left the Hospital Wing and Tom was still treating her as if she would break at any moment. She'd tried telling him she wouldn't, but he would hear nothing of leaving her alone for any amount of time. He even escorted her to her dormitory. Hermione was actually a little surprised he didn't expect her to sleep in his bed. They hadn't had a repeat performance of what had happened on Halloween and Hermione couldn't decide if she was upset about that or not. Did Tom not like it? He'd seemed as if he liked it at the time. They hadn't even snogged since then. And yet, Tom wouldn't let her out of his sight. She shook her head in confusion, she really didn't understand him.
She had placed a book in her cloak pocket and was pleased that Tom was into Quidditch enough that he left her alone to read as he stood and cheered with the crowd. Hermione rolled her eyes, it was just a silly game. She was so engrossed in the book she was reading on multiplying charms that she didn't even realize anything was wrong until she heard screaming. Hermione looked up in time to see a bludger flying right at her.
When Hermione was little, she'd once fallen out of a tree in her backyard. She had ended up with a broken arm. Watching the bludger track toward her had been a little like that. She saw it coming, she recognized that it was a bad thing and she should do something about it, but she felt frozen and unable to make a decision. It all happened so slowly and so fast at the same time.
Hermione blinked and the bludger slammed into her chest. It knocked her off her bench and she fell into the person behind her. Who jumped out of the way and Hermione hit her head on the bench a row above them. She stared straight into the sky and …
"Who's there?" said Harry, jumping down onto the bench below. Hermione couldn't hear an answering voice. But the veil in the arch in the middle of the room continued to flutter.
"Careful!" Hermione whispered.
Harry scrambled down the benches one by one until he reached the bottom. His footsteps echoed as he walked toward the dais. Hermione followed him down. The archway looked much taller from where she stood now than when she had been looking down on it from above. The veil still swayed gently as though somebody had just passed through it.
"Sirius?" Harry spoke again.
Hermione had the strangest feeling that there was someone standing right behind the veil on the other side of the archway. Harry gripped his wand very tightly and edged around the dais, Hermione followed slowly, her gaze locked on Harry's movements. There was nobody on the other side. All they could see was the tattered black veil.
"Let's go," Hermione urged. "This isn't right, Harry, come on, let's go…"
Harry ignored her and turned back to the veil.
"Harry, let's go, okay?" Hermione said more forcefully as she approached him slowly.
"Okay," he said, but he didn't move. "What are you saying?" he asked very loudly. The words echoed all around the surrounding stone benches.
"Nobody's talking, Harry!" Hermione snapped as she moved to him, gripping his sleeve.
"Someone's whispering behind there," he said, moving out of her reach and continuing to frown at the veil. "Is that you, Ron?"
"I'm here, mate," Ron said, appearing around the side of the archway.
"Can't anybody else hear it?" Harry demanded.
Hermione shook her head. She was scared, Harry was scaring her.
"I can hear them too," breathed Luna, joining them around the side of the archway and gazing at the swaying veil. "There are people in there!"
"What do you mean, 'in there'?" Hermione demanded. "There isn't any 'in there', it's just an archway, there's no room for anybody to be there — Harry, stop it, come away —"
She grabbed his arm and pulled, but he resisted.
"Harry, we are supposed to be here for Sirius!" Hermione said, her voice high-pitched and straining.
"Sirius," Harry intoned, still gazing at the continuously swaying veil. "Yeah…"
He made to move toward the arch again, and Hermione pulled on his arm sharply, "Sirius," she snapped.
Suddenly Harry shook his head and the sickening dazed look left his face. "Let's go," he said and began walking back up the stairs.
Hermione sighed and followed him.
"Nobody… there… Harry…" Hermione mumbled as he eyes flashed back open and she found herself looking into Tom Riddle's deep blue ones.
She struggled to get up, and that's when she remembered the horrific pain in her chest. She coughed, and it sounded wet to her ears. She tasted blood.
"Tom," she moaned and her eyes slid shut once more.
"Hang on, Avens. I'll get you to Madam Davies," Tom murmured.
Hermione tried to nod to show she understood, but she wasn't sure her head just didn't loll where it rested on Tom's shoulder.
November 22, 1944
Hermione opened her eyes and found herself in the Hospital Wing once more. At this rate, she was beginning to think she should move into the Hospital Wing.
"Wh-What happened?" she asked when she found Tom and Armando sitting next to her.
"Rogue bludger, my dear," Armando explained. Hermione was groggy, but she didn't miss the way Tom's eyes narrowed. He didn't seem to think it was a rogue bludger at all.
"Hate Quidditch," Hermione mumbled, her voice hoarse and scratchy.
Tom lifted a glass of water with a straw and helped her take a sip.
"Thanks," she muttered.
"Well, glad to see you awake, dear. I'll leave you and Tom to catch up."
"Who?" Hermione asked.
"Abraxas has been dealt with," Tom replied coldly after the headmaster left the Hospital Wing.
Hermione felt horrified, he wouldn't… "You didn't kill him did you?" Hermione asked. What if she was the reason Lucius or Draco Malfoy were never born? She couldn't mess with the timeline, not like this.
"He's not dead," Tom sighed. "Too many questions would be asked. He's been punished."
Hermione sighed, at least he wasn't dead.
"Who's Harry?" Tom asked.
Hermione looked at him confused. "What?"
"You were mumbling something about Harry after you'd been hit," Tom shrugged.
Hermione closed her eyes and thought for a moment. Then she remembered the Department of Mysteries. Stopping Harry from touching the veil had been enough to count as a life debt. That was two flashbacks involving saving Harry in some way. That had to mean Harry was dead, right? What about Ron? She knew Sirius was, he'd died that night in the Department of Mysteries.
"He's my best friend," Hermione said as she opened her eyes. "Was my best friend. He must be dead now. I - I have flashbacks, I think. You know about Anamoran? What it is? I think that that's what's saving me. I should have died, from the fall, from the fire crab, from the bludger, from…" Hermione trailed off as she realized the first flashback she had was upon waking up here.
Voldemort's killing curse had not killed her. It had sent her back in time by some strange combination of magic from the killing curse, the time turner, and the amount of Anamoran Hermione had.
"But I didn't die. None of it killed me. Each time, I have a flashback to when I saved someone's life. But the only way Anamoran can work is if the life debt is unfulfilled and unacknowledged. So that means, whoever I saved is dead now. I keep having flashbacks of times I've saved my best friend. Which means he m-must be d-dead…" Hermione trailed off as the lump in her throat grew.
She couldn't say any more. She shook her head and buried her face in her hands as the hot tears coursed down her cheeks. She tried to keep the sobs in, tried not to feel her heart break over never seeing Harry or Ron or anyone else she knew again, but she couldn't.
She felt her heart shatter into pieces, as Tom slid his arms around her and pulled her into him. She buried her face into his chest and sobbed, clutching him to her. Holding on for dear life to the one person who had taken her entire life away.
Chapter 11: Multiverse
November 22, 1944
Tom cursed himself for ending up in this situation. He sat in the Hospital Wing with his arms wrapped around a witch who was sobbing, and the front of his robes was soaked in her tears. He felt like an idiot.
"Shhh, Avens, shhh," he crooned as he rocked her.
He had no idea if it was helping, but it felt right. "It's okay, we'll work it out," he whispered into her hair.
Tom didn't know what else to do. She had nobody, and whatever dark and terrible future she came from, she wasn't getting back there. Especially, if Tom had anything to say about it. It was one of the reasons he wouldn't let her out of his sight.
He didn't want to examine what had happened all those weeks ago on Halloween morning. He was a red-blooded male, of course, he enjoyed sex. It didn't stop his traitorous thoughts from wondering if that was why he was coddling the witch in his arms. Was it the sex? Or was it something more? Or, as he kept insisting, was it just because she would be invaluable to him in the future: when he got her to break down and tell him everything.
Actually, he already knew a lot. He knew that he was alive in the future, as Lord Voldemort. He knew that she was scared of him on some level. He knew that she was Muggleborn, it was obvious in the oblivious way she treated him when he had enacted the Acts of Courtship. He knew that her time was so dangerous she'd managed to rack up at least three unacknowledged life debts. He knew that she was still fighting for a way back to her own time. He knew that the story Dippet told regarding being persecuted by Grindelwald was false and that Dippet had legally taken guardianship over her. He knew that Dippet was teaching her Occlumency, he suspected he was also teaching her Legilimency. He knew she was brilliant, he hadn't forgotten that little-beaded bag with the impressive layered charms.
So he knew a lot, and yet, as she quieted in his arms, he felt like he didn't know nearly enough. He was still puzzled by her actions and reactions. He knew she assumed her best friend was dead, why would that create such a strong reaction now? She'd been back in the past for months. Besides, wasn't he her best friend now? Not that Tom particularly cared for such silly designations, but still, she spent most of her time with him. Didn't that de facto make him her best friend? Who cared about this Harry bloke she would never see again even if she went back to her own time. Tom didn't know a lot about time travel, it was never a subject that appealed to him. Who cared about the past, you couldn't change it anyway. But he was curious about how she ended up so far in the past, and why. Time-Turners couldn't travel more than a couple of hours, Tom had seen the clump of melted metal she insisted used to be a time turner. No way was that going to get her back to the future. He'd seen some obscure texts in her bag regarding physics and quantum mechanics, but Tom didn't really understand what they had to do with time travel.
He looked down at the witch in his arms and realized she had fallen asleep. Tom sighed heavily, the witch trusted him. Nobody trusted him, not really. The professors did, but most of the people he knew his age respected and feared him. They didn't trust him. Not like this. How much trust did you have to have for someone to cry in their arms and then fall asleep on them?
Tom huffed as he eased the witch onto the bed. She mumbled a bit, and Tom summoned a pillow for her to hug instead of him. He smoothed the covers over her as he stood and gazed down. He truly did not understand this girl and her motivations. But he knew, he couldn't let her go. She was his, whether she wanted to be or not.
November 25, 1944
Tom was feeling decidedly… off. He wanted the diadem back. He felt connected to it in a way he hadn't ever felt before. His skin itched and he wanted to hold the diadem in his hands. Desperately. Granger had been let out of the Hospital Wing yesterday and Tom had left her alone. But now he felt he had to track her down. If only to be close to the diadem again. She carried that little-beaded bag around with her everywhere.
Tom stormed out of the Slytherin common room and headed for the library. It's where Granger liked to spend her time when she wasn't in the common room. He found her in the back corner, closest to the Restricted Section.
"Hello, Tom," Granger greeted pleasantly but didn't look up from her work.
"How did you know it was me?" he asked her. She hadn't even looked at him, Tom had kept his eyes on her the entire time.
"You are the only person who talks to me," Granger shrugged. She sounded… sad. He pushed those thoughts away as he sat next to her at the table.
"Give me a few minutes, and we can talk," Granger mumbled, her hand flowed quickly over the parchment.
Tom frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. Why couldn't he get her out of his head? Other than the obvious that she was the key to his future. He kept having flashes of what her legs felt like wrapped around his waist, and thoughts, like how he had wondered how she tasted. Or remembered the way her lips felt pressed against his. He narrowed his eyes at her. What was she doing to him? He'd never felt this way about any other girl he'd fucked. One roll in the sack with Granger, and it was all Tom could think about. He wondered if she was similarly affected. He hoped so. He hoped that she lost as much sleep as he did over what it felt like to be wrapped around her. At the same time, he hoped that she didn't care. If she didn't care, Tom wouldn't care, couldn't care. Maybe it would make things easier when he'd learned all he could from her and dispose of her like he disposed of Calanthe Burke.
"Alright, we should go," Granger said, breaking Tom's reverie.
"The Room of Requirement."
She blushed prettily. Tom raised his eyebrow at her discomfort and smirked, causing her to blush harder.
"Lead the way," he gestured as he stood from the table and grabbed her bag.
Granger rolled her eyes and grasped his hand. They climbed to the seventh floor where Granger paced in front of a blank bit of wall, after the third time, a door appeared.
"How does that work?" Tom asked as Granger tugged the door open and led him inside.
"I'm not sure of the technicalities behind it, but as long as nobody is in the room, pacing by the wall and thinking of what you need, three times produces the room. Although, I think the only way you could have found me on Halloween was by thinking of me as you paced," Granger cocked her head to consider him.
"I was using Point Me, and it kept telling me you were here, but I couldn't find you. Then suddenly, a door appeared."
"You were thinking of me and paced three times, meets the requirement," Granger shrugged. She sat on the couch the room provided, unlike the Gryffindor common room, this time the room looked more like someone's sitting room. A fireplace was on one wall, and there was a plaid couch, a couple of cushy armchairs and a coffee table. Tom chose an armchair. He sank into its comfort and placed his hands on the arms.
"What do you know about time travel?" Granger asked without preamble.
"Not a lot. Time-Turners can only go back five hours or so. You seem to have traveled back fifty years or more."
"I did. I'm from 1998. I had a Time-Turner, it… somehow activated after being hit with a spell. When I woke up, you were standing over me and Professor Dippet was telling me it was 1944."
"How is that possible? What spell?" Tom asked, intrigued.
Granger shrugged, "I'm not sure how's it possible and the spell probably doesn't matter. I suspect it was a combination of the magic of the Time-Turner, the spell, the caster of the spell and the amount of Anamoran I seem to have stockpiled."
"And that's how much again? And how does Anamoran work?" Tom asked. He was fascinated that she seemed to have extra lives because she'd saved someone's life before they died at a later point.
"I'm not entirely sure. There's a potion, you probably read about it in my books. I made it, but I didn't have time to take it before I was sent back in time. When I remembered it again, it had gone bad. It took a while to make and I haven't had a chance to duplicate it."
"You should," Tom insisted.
Granger chuckled lowly, "It's on my list. But I wanted to talk to you about time travel theories. I think that the Multiple Worlds Interpretation is true. I think that's why I'm back in time."
"Multiple Worlds Interpretation?"
"Or the Multiverse. It basically is a theory from the future, or rather my timeline, that says that there isn't one universe or timeline or space-time fabric, but many, layered on top of each other. Do you understand space-time?"
"Not really," Tom shrugged. "I didn't get that far in Muggle school, and certainly haven't kept up with Muggle science.
"That's typical," Granger grinned. "Basically, time isn't a string, a flat line, it's more of a fabric that can wrinkle and move and warp. It has to do with Einstein's theory of relativity. So instead of one piece of fabric, which would be the timeline, the world you live in. There are many. All stacked on top of each other and not that far from each other, but very difficult to get to. Almost impossible to go from one timeline to another. But, I think that's what happened to me."
"Why do you think you are in a different timeline than the one you started in?" Tom asked. He thought he understood what she was talking about, but it was very confusing.
"Little things. In your timeline, World War II, the war the Muggles are fighting, the Allies invaded the beaches of Normandy on June 3, 1944. But in my time, the invasion happened on June 6. Earlier this year, the Verona trials never happened, in my time, they happen in January 1944. In fact, Mussolini doesn't seem to be much of a fascist at all in your time." Granger shrugged, then continued, "Minerva McGonagall was born in 1935, she'd only be nine in my time. And…" she trailed off and glanced at him through her eyelashes.
"What?" Tom snapped.
"You killed your father in my timeline in 1943, but in this one, in 1944," Granger whispered.
Tom narrowed his eyes, "How do you know that?"
"I asked for the papers from Little Hangleton from Headmaster Dippet. He was able to arrange for them to be copied," Granger admitted.
"So, you are from another timeline altogether? Does that mean you'll be useless to me on future events?" Tom threatened. He stood from the chair and towered over where she sat on the couch.
Granger shrugged, "I don't know. Events that may have happened in my timeline do seem to mostly happen here. But not all of them. There's no way to know for sure."
"Then why shouldn't I kill you right now?"
Tom smirked when she gulped. She looked terrified and Tom relished the fear he was causing.
"I can still help you, you know," she said quietly.
"How? You don't know what will happen in this world. You just said so."
Granger stood, pushing against Tom's chest to give herself some room. "That's true, I don't know exactly what will happen. But Tom? I know what will happen to you if you keep making Horcruxes."
"What do you know about it, little girl?" Tom sneered and grabbed her wrist before she could push away from him. He gripped it tightly, savoring the grimace of pain that crossed her face. He was angry at her knowledge of his Horcruxes. Nobody was supposed to know. If nobody knew about them, they couldn't be destroyed.
"I know plenty. I know you have two already. The diary and the ring. I know who you killed to get them. I know you want to make six of them, so you have seven parts to your soul. I know even now you are less human than you were a year ago."
Granger's' eyes flashed up at him and her hair sparked with excess magical energy in her anger. Tom still held her wrist and pulled on it, dragging her body closer to his.
"Do you know that I don't regret it? That I'm glad that Mudblood and my father are dead? The world is a better place without the both of them," Tom growled into her face, tightening his grip on her wrist.
"You're going to break it," Granger whined.
"I don't care," Tom smirked at Granger's wince.
Granger narrowed her eyes at him and pushed against his chest. Tom laughed at her and grabbed her other wrist. Then began walking her backward until she was pressed between him and the wall.
"You don't know as much as you think, Granger," Tom muttered.
He grabbed both wrists with one hand and held them both above her head. His left hand came down to grasp her chin so he could look her in the eyes. So far, he had refrained from attempting Legilimency on her, but he was done with that now. She knew too many of his secrets.
"Legilimens," Tom whispered, staring into her eyes.
He entered her mind swiftly and harshly and found himself standing at the edge of a lake. There was a thick fog rolling in and soon, Tom could see nothing but fog. Then he heard the cry of a dragon. He pulled out, abruptly, she was too well defended, he didn't have time to fight through them all. Tom glared at her.
"Dippet teaches me too," Granger said quietly.
"Clearly," Tom spat.
"Let me help you," Granger pleaded.
"I don't need you," Tom sneered. He still had her pressed between himself and the wall, his grip on her wrists hadn't lessened and he still had her chin in his hand.
"But you want me," Granger replied.
Tom couldn't deny that he did want her, even now his cock was hard and pressed insistently against her stomach.
Tom let her go in disgust, "It doesn't matter. I don't need you." He paced away and stood in front of the fireplace, his chest heaving breaths as he thought of the way her body so sweetly pressed against his own. He tried to will his erection away, to no avail.
"It does matter," Granger told him. She placed her hand on his back, "I want you too."
"And the Horcruxes? Do they not matter?" Tom spat.
"Of course, they matter, but they don't stop my feelings," Granger replied. She slipped both her hands around him, hugging him from behind. Tom breathed in deeply, enjoying the feel of her against him. He wanted to turn around and bury himself inside her, he wanted to burn from the passion he felt for her. But, he thought of his Knights and all he had promised them and all the plans he had laid for his future and resisted.
Chapter 12: Resignation
December 3, 1944
Hermione had resigned herself to living in the past. She wasn't making it back to her timeline so, she had to make the best of it. And the best way to do that, would to make sure that Tom Riddle, never became Lord Voldemort. Even if he'd already begun calling himself that to his Knights. She was sure Tom had begun gathering followers around him like a cloak on a cold winter's day. But Tom had never spoken of them to her so she couldn't be sure. In the end, it didn't matter. Hermione was convinced she could turn Tom from his path. She had to start slow, she'd seen how spooked he'd been when she discussed his Horcruxes with him a week ago. She was determined to go slower. Give him tidbits, make him interested in what she knew, keep him around until he felt he had to be around her. Until not being around her felt strange to him. She looked at the calendar above her desk, she had the rest of 1944 and six months in 1945 to make that a reality.
The first thing would be to stop avoiding him, which she had been since last week. But he'd been avoiding her too. Hermione had finally gotten a chance to speak with Minerva and had been summarily blown off. She was persona non grata with most of the school. Tom had claimed her and nobody wanted to mess with Tom. But now, Tom was ignoring her. So Hermione had to make herself unignorable.
Decision made, Hermione left her dormitory and headed for the common room. She didn't see Tom, so she went in search of him in the library. He wasn't there either. It was a long shot, but she decided to try anyway and went to look for him in the Room of Requirement. Empty.
She went back to the Slytherin common room. Could he really be hiding out from her in his own dormitory? It seemed absurd, but she was sure that's where he was. She stalked into the common room.
"Tom!" she called and pounded in on his door.
"Go away," came the growled reply.
Hermione frowned. "TOM!" she called louder, pounding harder.
The door wrenched open and Tom stood there shirtless, "I said go away, Granger."
Hermione looked confused until she saw past Tom and saw Loretta Renshaw, one of her own roommates, lounging on his bed with her shirt undone.
"I see," Hermione said icily and turned away before he could see the tears in her eyes.
Hermione heard the door slam behind her and felt her heart stutter at the sound. She flew down the long hallway to the common room. She could feel the tears begin to leak out and ran out of the common room for her quarters attached to Armando's. She needed home right now, that was as close to home as she had in this timeline. Hopefully, Armando was out.
Luckily the Headmaster's office was empty and she ran into her private quarters. She threw herself on her bed, finally letting out the sob that had been building. Stupid, she was so stupid. Why would Tom Riddle, handsome, gorgeous, powerful, dangerous Tom Riddle want someone like her? A one-time dalliance and a three month obsession did not lead to a relationship. Hermione was smarter than this, she knew she was. But it didn't stop the pain in her heart. It didn't stop the hurt. She'd finally decided to stay here. To make the most of the hand she was dealt. To help Tom. But Tom didn't want her help. He so clearly did not want her help or anything to do with her.
Hermione sat up slowly. If he didn't want her help, and she was still stuck here, she would just have to make sure he didn't succeed. Which meant, destroying the two Horcruxes he already made. It meant destroying any Horcrux he made. Including the diadem still tucked away in her bag. Would it affect him? That diadem from the other timeline? Is that how souls worked? Were they spread across timelines, across universes? Hermione didn't know. As far as she knew, she was the only person in the world to have traveled across timelines. She was the premier expert and knew nothing.
She did know that battling Tom would be dangerous. He would not like it if he found out what she was doing. A few days prior, Hermione had sat down and tried to count up how many life debts she might have. But, it wasn't as accurate as the potion. So that would be the first order of business. Get the potion made, figure out how much Anamoran she had, then go on from there.
"Hermione?" Armando called from beyond her door, knocking lightly.
Hermione wiped her face, and sniffed. "Come in," she said and waved her wand, unlocking the door.
Armando wandered in with a tea set floating on a tray behind him.
"Want a cuppa?" he asked.
Hermione nodded and Armando set the tray on her desk and poured for them both.
"Want to tell me about it?"
"Not really. Well, mostly just being stuck in the past without my family and friends."
"Ah, it is a hard thing to deal with. Not that I know, of course, but it seems very disorienting."
Hermione hummed her agreement.
"And there's the fact that you've been in the Hospital Wing so much this year," Armando commented.
"How much Anamoran do you suppose you have?"
"What?" Hermione had never discussed this with Armando. How did he know?
"Anamoran? Is that not what they call it? Extra soul? From an unacknowledged life debt," Armando explained.
"No, I know what it is. But it's rare. How do you know what it is?" Hermione asked.
Armando grinned, "I was born in 1637."
"What?! How is that possible, that means, you're…"
"Three hundred and seven, yes that's right. Sprightly for my old age, aren't I?" Armando winked.
"I don't understand what your extreme age has to do with Anamoran?" Hermione shook her head confused about where this conversation was going.
"Anamoran presents in two ways. Extra soul can grant you extra years on your life, or, if your life is threatened, will be used up."
"Who did you save?"
"My parents and older brother. There was an incident with a rogue dragon."
Hermione's eyes widened.
"It was the 1600's, my dear. There were wild dragons in Britain then. I was a child and saved them with a bit of accidental magic. The life debt went unacknowledged, even though they all lived quite well beyond their hundreds. I was stuck with the extra bit. By my calculations, each life adds eighty or so years on to one's life."
"Eighty years? What happens if you saved the same person's life over and over again?"
"Hmmm, I'm not sure," Armando pursed his lips and furrowed his brow, deep in thought for a moment. "Is that what happened in your case?"
"I don't know the exact count of lives, but I saved my best friend, Harry's, life at least eight times. And a few others more than once as well."
"That's interesting. He died in your timeline, then?"
"He did, I saw it. I was unable to save him that final time," Hermione hung her head in shame.
"Eight times is more than enough. Boy must have been downright clumsy," Armando chuckled trying to lighten the mood.
Hermione gave him a half-smile.
"And what has happened these last few weeks? When you've had your near-death experiences?"
"I have a flashback, to a time I saved someone's life. By my count, I've had four flashbacks. But some of them I saved more than one person's life. Does that mean the Anamoran is used up for each person?"
"I don't think so. I think you get one unit of Anamoran for each person you save, each time you save them. That's my conjecture anyway. Have you taken the potion?"
"Not yet. I was going to get started on making it."
"You should," Armando nodded. "At least then we'll know what we're dealing with. Merlin had many Anamoran as well. It's how he lived as long as he did."
Hermione smiled tiredly.
"I know you've had a tough few weeks. I won't pretend to know what sent you up here crying today. I'll allow you to stay tonight. But I expect you to be back in Slytherin tomorrow."
Armando rose from the chair and bent to give Hermione a kiss on the forehead.
"Thanks," Hermione murmured as Armando and the tea service floated out of the room.
December 5, 1944
Hermione rustled through the drawers in Tom's desk. He was on patrol she knew until after curfew. Hopefully, she could find either the diary or the ring before he came back. He hadn't even warded his room with blood wards. Hermione didn't know if that was on purpose or if he truly thought that nobody would steal from him. She thought it was stupidity. Clearly, he wasn't a Gryffindor. Gryffindor's always warded their things. Unless they wanted some sort of prank pulled on them.
"What are you doing?" Tom said coldly standing in the doorway to his room.
Hermione whirled around to face him. She glared at him. He looked good, better than good. His hair was just slightly tousled and his uniform perfectly together and pressed, except for the top button of his shirt, which he had unbuttoned.
"Nothing," Hermione replied, she made to move past him, but he blocked her.
He reached for her wrist, but she yanked it away and shoved her wand under his nose.
"Don't touch me," Hermione snapped.
Tom pulled back, but didn't move out of her way.
"Move," Hermione stated.
"I'll hex you."
"You were going through my things. I should be the one hexing you."
"Bugger off," Hermione scoffed at him and sent a stinging hex to his leg.
Tom didn't say a word, but pulled his own wand.
"Are we going to duel then?" Hermione asked with a smirk. She knew Tom was good, but he wasn't Lord Voldemort yet. She could hold her own against him.
Tom rolled his eyes, "I'm not going to duel you, Granger. But I will warn you to stay out of my room."
"Not a chance with the flimsy wards you put up," Hermione said, she made to move around him, but he blocked her again.
"Not good enough," Tom growled.
"I don't have to do anything you want me to. I'm my own person. You've clearly shown you want nothing to do with me. But I'm not done with you."
"Is that a threat, Granger?" Tom asked. He stalked toward her, but Hermione darted around him before he could back her into a corner. She knew what would happen if he did that, and she wasn't in the mood for that. She had to find his Horcruxes and destroy them.
"It's a promise," she grinned and threw his door open.
She whistled as she walked down the long hallway back to the Slytherin common room. When she heard the door slam shut behind her, she grinned. Getting under Tom's skin was rather fun, she couldn't wait to do it again.
December 11, 1944
Hermione was studying for their Arithmancy test the following day when Tom slumped into the chair next to her in the library.
"It didn't work," he mumbled.
"What didn't work?" Hermione asked. She didn't look up from her book or her notes, so she missed the look of longing that passed across Tom's face.
"Trying to get over you," Tom admitted.
"What?" Hermione looked up at him and was shocked to see Tom looking as disheveled as she'd ever seen him. His tie was askew and his hair was a mess. "Tom? What's the matter?"
"You are," Tom ground out.
"Explain," Hermione snapped back at him.
"I was trying to get over you. It didn't work," Tom glared at her.
Hermione laughed. She couldn't help it, he looked so stubborn and frustrated and clueless at the same time.
"It's not funny," Tom growled.
"I'm sorry," Hermione said. But another giggle escaped her at the look on his face.
Tom huffed and glared. Hermione struggled to keep her face straight.
"So you're saying catching you in the act with Loretta Renshaw was what? On purpose? Happy accident?"
"A mistake. Fucking girl won't leave me alone now," Tom replied.
Hermione started to laugh again, but clamped her lips shut at the look on his face.
"Well, you are devastatingly handsome, I can see…"
"You think I'm good looking?" Tom smirked.
"Stop begging for compliments, it doesn't suit you," Hermione said primly. She began packing up her books. She had never thought manipulating Tom would be so easy.
"Wait, where are you going?" Tom asked.
"Oh, I thought you wanted to have a conversation?" Hermione replied as she stood.
"I do," Tom said, following her.
"Then we should have it in private," Hermione replied.
She headed down the hall and lead Tom all the way up to the Room of Requirement.
"We could have gone to my room," Tom grumbled.
"True, but this is at least neutral territory," Hermione replied, pacing in front of the blank bit of wall.
The room opened up to a replica of the Slytherin common room, complete with the window that view under the lake.
"Impressive," Tom replied as he looked around.
Hermione smiled. She dropped her bag near the door and curled up in front of one of the fireplaces. It even had the slight chill in the air that the dungeons always had, no matter how large the fires were.
Tom sat in the armchair facing her, but didn't speak.
"Well," Hermione said, trying to get him to say something.
Tom raised an eyebrow at her. Then smirked when Hermione glared at him.
"I assume you had something in mind you wanted to talk about?" Hermione suggested.
"I do. I want to know your thoughts on 'us'," Tom sneered the word us.
Hermione smirked, "'Us'? Is there an 'us'?"
"I've just said it, haven't I?" Tom sneered.
"And so prettily too," Hermione commented.
"You are bloody impossible, witch," Tom growled at her.
"What do you want from me, Tom? Should I get on my knees and beg you to be in a relationship with me? Like Renshaw undoubtedly has done?"
"No begging required, but it wouldn't hurt for you to be on your knees," Tom flirted.
Hermione rolled her eyes, "What a ladies man you are. No wonder they are beating down your door. You should start with an apology."
"For what? I never made any mentions of exclusivity."
"Hmm, that's true. Fine, clean slate then?" Hermione suggested.
"Fine," Tom nodded.
"What do you know of the magical population?" Hermione asked, changing the subject abruptly. She'd had a few conversations with Armando about it and was still refining her plan to get Tom to turn from his path to become Lord Voldemort.
"What?" Tom asked, not following.
"What is the magical population of Britain?" Hermione asked more plainly.
"Something like ten thousand or so," Tom shrugged.
"In 1998 it's three thousand, before the war. After the war, I'm not sure, but dropped by at least a thousand."
"What?" Tom's eyes widened and Hermione could see the horror in them.
"Blood purity wars, dark lords, almost the total collapse of the wizarding world," Hermione explained. "A wizard decided he wanted to rid the world of Muggleborns. He caused two devastating wars within twenty years. When I went to Hogwarts, there were only three other witches in my dormitory. And most houses and years were the same. A far cry from the nine witches I share with today."
"Three thousand is almost too low to sustain a healthy population," Tom whispered.
"I know. I'm going to try to prevent it if I can," Hermione said.
"How?" Tom asked.
"I'm not sure yet."
December 25, 1944
Hermione and Tom were the only students spending Christmas break at the castle. They had slowly overcome the awkwardness of the last few weeks and were back to where they were before Halloween. Hermione's heart still beat faster when Tom was near, but they hadn't kissed again. Tom hadn't even touched her, even in a friendly way and Hermione found herself missing it. Even before they had slept together, Tom was always touching her, holding her hand, helping her out of her seat, guiding her through doors. But not since their tentative makeup earlier in the month.
Armando invited them to the headmaster's quarters to open gifts and eat Christmas lunch.
"Are you ready?" Tom asked as she walked into the common room. He was dressed for the occasion in dark grey slacks and a Slytherin green sweater. Hermione thought he looked delicious without his robes obscuring the slim lines of his body.
"Yep," Hermione said brightly. She too was dressed for the occasion in a red party dress that landed just below her knees and fell off her shoulder.
Tom shocked Hermione by holding out his arm for her to take. She grinned at him as she took it and he lead her toward the headmaster's office.
"You look like a Gryffindor," Tom muttered.
"I am a Gryffindor," Hermione replied. Nothing was going to ruin her day. She missed her friends and family, but was determined to make a new life for herself here. That meant embracing her new friends and family which consisted of only Armando and Tom.
Lunch was a bright affair, several other professors were in attendance and there was much laughter. Afterward, gifts were exchanged between Armando and Hermione. He'd given her a warm, fur winter cloak. She'd give him a text from the 1960's, obscured behind an older cover.
"Oh, I have this…" Armando trailed off as he read the inside of the book.
Hermione smirked, waiting for him.
"Copyright, 1966... Thank you my dear!" Armando exclaimed, standing and pulling Hermione into a hug.
"Alright, off you two," Armando shooed them out as dark fell across the castle. "Get back to the common room before the halls get too draughty."
Hermione wished Armando a Happy Christmas once more and allowed Tom to lead her back to the common room.
"I have a gift for you too," Hermione told him.
Tom stiffened next to her. "You didn't have to get me anything."
"I know, and it's a small thing, really," Hermione insisted.
"It's alright," Hermione said. She knew that Tom was an orphan, that he had practically no money to his name. She didn't expect a gift from him
Tom stalked them toward the common room, in a terrible mood, and Hermione felt awful for having mentioned it to him before hand. She should have just sprung the gift on him. Tom tried to leave her in the common room once they arrived, but she tugged on his arm.
"It's similar to Armando's gift," Hermione shrugged and handed him the book she had wrapped. It was a copy of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Tom had seemed interested in some of the concepts Hermione had discussed regarding the multiple worlds interpretation and Muggle physics.
Tom opened the package and stared at the cover of the book. It was an original edition, printed in 1988. It was ten years old when it made the trip back in time with Hermione and showed its age. Tom read the copyright.
"This is… this… thank you," Tom replied, looking up at her with a small smile on his face.
Hermione grinned at him, "See not too much at all."
"No, it's not," Tom smiled softly back. When he tried to move away, he couldn't.
Hermione looked up and found a sprig of mistletoe above them. She couldn't stop the giggle that escaped her.
"Fucking Dippet," Tom growled.
Hermione reached her hand up and gently cupped his cheek. "Do you mind so much?"
"Merlin, no," Tom breathed as he covered her mouth with his own. He swept his arms around her, holding her tightly to his body even as he invaded her mouth with his tongue.
Hermione groaned at the feel of him pressed against her and wound her fingers in his hair, tousling it. Hermione felt dizzy from the well of emotions that stormed over her. Desire pooled in her belly and fire burned in her veins. Her nipples puckered in her bra, aching to be touched and her nether lips clenched with the desire to be filled.
"Fucking… want… you…" Tom breathed as he kissed his way from her mouth along her jaw and down the side of Hermione's neck. He nipped at the spot where her neck and shoulder met and Hermione mewled in response.
She pushed against his chest, as good as this all felt, Hermione had a plan. She wanted to stick with her plan.
"Mistletoe's gone," she panted as one of Tom's hands cupped her breast through the dress.
Hermione succeeded in pushing Tom away.
"Happy Christmas, Tom," she smiled and left him standing in the common room. His shirt was untucked and his hair mussed from their intense snog as he stared after her.
December 31, 1944
Hermione had sent Tom on an errand to the library in the middle of the afternoon. All a part of her plan as she snuck into his room and began decorating. She hung streamers, and conjured balloons. She found an old gramophone in the Room of Requirement and lugged it down to set upon his desk. She charmed it to play some of the big band hits of the era.
She'd even found a Slytherin green dress to wear, a slinky number that went down to her toes, but had a large slit up the side. And two tiny little straps holding the whole thing up on her shoulders. She was just dimming the lights, and charming little stars on the ceiling to twinkle when the door opened once more.
"What is this?" Tom demanded, his arms crossed over his chest. He was in his shirt sleeves and slacks, the most casual Hermione had ever seen him.
"Happy Birthday!" Hermione said brightly.
"I don't do birthdays," Tom glowered at her.
"Well, you do this year. You only turn eighteen once!"
"I'm not in the mood."
"Tough," Hermione grinned at him and handed him a glass of elf wine. She'd found a couple of bottles in the kitchen and had begged the house elves for them.
"We're celebrating, Tom," Hermione told him as she took a sip from her own glass.
Tom finally relented, sipping at the wine and Hermione grinned, "See that wasn't so bad, was it?"
"What is this?" Tom asked, taking another sip.
"Elf wine, have you never had it?"
"I mostly stick to firewhisky," Tom admitted.
"Oh right, it's manlier," Hermione giggled at him.
Tom gulped the rest of his wine and held a hand out, "Dance?"
Hermione smiled, "Sure."
She set her own glass down and Tom swept her into his arms, dancing rather elegantly around his room.
Chapter 13: Realizations
January 1, 1945
Tom danced Granger around and enjoyed the feel of her in his arms. He had thought if he could just get over her, get the thoughts of her out of his head, things would be better. It's why he'd taken Renshaw to bed. But now Renshaw wouldn't leave Tom alone. And still the only person Tom could think about, the only person Tom wanted to think about was the one in his arms.
"Thank you," he said quietly after the stroke of midnight. They had stopped waltzing at some point and were now swaying slowly.
Granger lifted her head from his chest and propped her chin on his chest.
"For what?" she asked with a soft, sleepy smile on her face.
"This. Giving me a birthday party. I've never had one before," Tom admitted.
He didn't know why he kept admitting things like that to her. They seemed to slip out when she was around. Her arms tightened around him and she looked as if she would cry, so he kissed her. He didn't want her to cry over him. She'd done too much of that already.
Granger melted into him as he deepened the kiss. Gods, how he'd missed this. How he'd missed her. He buried his right hand into her curls, directing the kiss. His left hand slipped from her waist to her bum, pulling her close to him so she could feel what she did to -hardn half hard most of the night, and one taste of her lips and he had a raging erection. He wanted her desperately. Her dress beneath his fingers was silky and sensual as he gripped her close.
Swallowing every moan and whimper, he tore himself away from her mouth and planted wet, open-mouthed kisses along her jaw and down her neck to her shoulder.
"Tom," Granger pleaded, her own hands playing with the ends of his hair.
He nipped and licked his way across her shoulders to the strap of her dress, and pushed it off. A swipe with his other hand and the dress slithered down her perfect body. She stood before him in her knickers alone.
"You're overdressed," she murmured, a blush rising to her cheeks as she reached out and began unbuttoning his shirt. He let her, his hands resting lightly on her hips as he watched her nipples tighten and harden in the cool dungeon air.
"You are so beautiful," Tom breathed as she pushed his shirt from her shoulders.
Her blush deepened and she shook her head as if denying it.
"No, you are," Tom said cupping her face, making her meet his eyes.
He could lose himself in the depths of her whisky colored eyes, he lowered his head and pressed his lips to hers once more. Slowly, he back her toward the bed at the far side of the room. She fell away from him, and landed on the bed with a laugh.
"Sorry," he chuckled as she scooted up the bed and he followed her up.
He leaned on his forearms, one on each side of her head as he kissed her once more. She gripped his hips, pulling until he was laying on top of her. Granger groaned when his weight hit her. He left her lips and trailed kisses down her throat until he found himself at her breasts. He nipped, licked, and sucked on one nipple as he plied the other with his fingers.
"Tom… gods…" Granger muttered as she threw her head back.
Tom smirked to himself as she lost her inhibitions. He left her breasts and kissed his way down her abdomen and toward the pearl at the top of her legs. He couldn't wait to taste her.
He grinned when he saw her knickers were Slytherin green.
"They look good on you," he commented, as he ran his finger along the top lacy edge.
He tugged them down, pulling them all the way off her legs and tossing them to the floor.
"They look better down there," Tom smirked as he looked down at her bare form, resting on his knees.
She looked divine, lying in his bed, completely naked.
"Tom," she pleaded, reaching her hands toward him.
Tom slipped a hand up her right leg, ghosting around her inner thigh. Soon his other hand joined the first on her left leg.
"Tom," she whined as she tossed her head and Tom touched her everywhere, except where it truly mattered. "Please."
Tom slid his hand over her mound, cupping her there. His fingers played with her nether lips, but didn't penetrate.
"Gods," Granger groaned.
She looked gorgeous. Her hair had come free of its pins and haloed around her. She was flushed and glowing. One hand gripped the sheet as the other grasped her breast, twisting her nipple. Tom licked his lips as he watched her pleasure herself. When the hand gripping the sheets tried to sneak down to guide him, he slapped it away.
"Not yet, Avens," he whispered and leaned down, kissing and licking along her abdomen, down to her thighs and back up to the sweet juncture between them. He inhaled her scent deeply, feeling intoxicated by it.
He darted his tongue out and tasted her tentatively. Like honey and wine. He licked her from arse to pearl and she sobbed. He set a rhythm with his tongue, in and out of her slick hole, she was wet, so, so wet and he lapped everything she gave. He swirled his tongue all around, avoiding the button he knew she so desperately wanted touched.
Her thighs closed around his ears and one of her hands delved through his head, holding him in place.
"Tom!" she cried out when he finally, finally licked her clit with a broad flat stroke.
Tom grinned at her reaction, and licked her clit again, setting a rhythm she liked as he slid a finger inside her tight channel. He added a second finger, and then a third. Then he caught her gaze and sucked on her clit as he made a come hither motion inside him. She shattered. Granger wailed his name and tossed her head back as her body arched and her cunt clenched around his fingers. It was fucking glorious, Tom thought. She was gorgeous. He couldn't wait to be buried inside her.
He watched as her breathing eased and she slowly came down from her high. When she opened her eyes to look at him again, he licked his fingers, tasting her essence and was pleased when he saw her breath hitch. He licked and nipped his way back up her body before settling himself between her thighs.
"You're fucking beautiful when you come," Tom told her, grinning.
She blushed and looked down. Tom grabbed her by the chin and forced her to look at him again. Then he kissed her, the taste of her still in his mouth and she groaned. She pulled him close, winding her arms around his shoulders and Tom nudged her with his cock, giving her teasing little thrusts.
"Tom, please," she muttered when he pulled away to trail kisses along her jaw.
"Tell me what you want," he said as he nipped her earlobe.
"Gods, Tom… you…" she panted, throwing one of her legs around his hips, grinding into him. "I want you."
"Yeah? I already made you come once…" Tom panted, still withholding himself. All he wanted to do was sink into her sweet heat.
"Fuck, just fuck me already," Granger begged.
She slipped her hands down, and gripped his hips, pulling him to her.
"Like that?" Tom asked as he finally, finally stuffed his cock inside her.
The both groaned at the contact. Tom felt like he'd come home, her tight canal clutched and pulled and gripped him. She was slick and hot.
"Fuck…" Tom breathed as he pulled out slowly and pushed back in. Her cunt gripped him like it didn't ever want to let go.
"Merlin," Granger breathed as she wrapped both legs around him and arched her back, tilting her hips enough that he sank in even further.
"Magnificent," Tom murmured as he rolled his hips and set a slow rhythm.
All he wanted to do was pound, pound, pound into her. But he also never wanted this to end, he never wanted to have to be finished, it felt so good, too good.
"More," Granger moaned. "I need more… fuck."
Tom increased his pace as she requested. Snapping his hips into hers. Granger's low moans grew louder and her pussy gripped him tighter as she neared her second orgasm.
"Fuck, I want to watch you come again," Tom said even as he increased his pace. She was drawing him closer and closer to his own edge. His orgasm built at the base of his spine.
He slipped a hand between them and began circling her clit with his thumb.
"Oh, gods, yes!" Granger shrieked as her channel clamped down on his engorged cock. Tom thrust once, twice, thrice and then his own orgasm was on him and he spent himself inside her.
"Fuck, gods, ungh…" Tom groaned as he collapsed on top of her.
"That was brilliant," Granger agreed, wrapping her arms around him. Tom nodded and closed his eyes. His head pillowed on her chest.
January 13, 1945
Tom escorted Granger to the library. They planned to spend most of the afternoon studying for Ancient Runes. He had a lot on his mind, Granger had told him a lot about her future. He was sickened when he thought about the population dwindling by thousands over the next fifty years. What was the catalyst for an event like that? Was it one event? Or an accumulation of events? Granger had mentioned one wizard wanting to eliminate Muggleborns entirely from the population. That was a platform Tom had been using to gather his Knights. Maybe he needed a different tactic. Blood purity was easy, but maybe he should start espousing power instead of blood purity.
A horrifying thought crossed Tom's mind, was it him? Was he the wizard she'd been talking about? Was it his fault that the magical population dropped by so much within fifty years? His stomach twisted and he felt sick. He knew that Granger was withholding information from him. He hadn't pressed her on it, but now he felt like he had to. They were almost to the library when the thought crossed his mind and he stopped abruptly.
"Tom?" Granger asked, looking up at him.
She was so beautiful, her hair hanging in lustrous brown ringlets down her back and her wide, doe-like eyes gazing up at him.
"Can we go to that room on the seventh floor? Room of Requirement, right?" Tom confirmed.
Granger nodded, "Sure, let's go."
Tom let her lead the way, she laced her fingers through his as she pulled him along. His mind was churning furiously. He was going to push her today. He was going to ask her about the future and if the collapse of wizarding society was his fault. He had a sickening sinking feeling that the answer was going to be yes.
She paced in front of the wall and when the door opened it showed a room he'd never seen before. There was a bed in the corner and a window, showing the west lawn. There were a few trinkets and in front of a large fireplace was a cozy settee.
"Where is this?" Tom asked as he glanced around at the contents of the room.
"My room in Armando's quarters," Granger admitted. "It's where I stayed all summer."
Tom nodded and strode to the settee, sitting on it heavily.
"What's wrong?" Granger asked as she perched on the edge of the settee next to him. Her knees pressed to his. He watched her twist her hands around in her lap before he asked the question that had been haunting him since last spring.
"Who is Lord Voldemort?" Tom asked flatly, without preamble.
Granger started next to him and Tom raised his gaze to find her's trained on his face. Her eyes were wide and there was a strange combination of horror and pity swirling inside them that he didn't really understand.
"My murderer," she whispered.
It was Tom's turn to jump. He leapt from the settee and paced in front of the fireplace. No, he couldn't have heard her correctly, there was no way that he… that….
"Explain," Tom snapped, not daring to look at her.
Granger stood from the couch and moved to stand in front of him. She pulled on his arms until he'd stopped walking and he met her gaze.
"There was a battle, a terrible, final battle. My best friends were dead. I'd saved them both so many times. That last day, I wasn't good enough, wasn't fast enough, and they both perished before me. Finally, I stood there, in front of the most terrible Dark Wizard that wizarding Britain had ever seen and he laughed at my misfortune. Then he cast the killing curse at me. But something went wrong. I didn't die. The killing curse hit the time turner hanging against my chest and when I woke up it was 1944 and not 1998 and you were standing over me."
"That Dark Wizard? That was Lord Voldemort?" Tom confirmed.
"I… I've been —"
"I know what you call yourself to your Knights," Granger said as she squeezed his hands.
"How can you?"
"I can't change the past. Or well," Granger chuckled lowly, he understood what she meant.
He felt sick, he wanted to vomit at the thought of aiming the killing curse at her.
"I'm not him," Tom said fiercely. "I'm not, I don't want—" he shook his head.
His thoughts were entirely jumbled. He tore his hands from her and dropped back onto the sofa, dropping his head in his hands.
"No, no, no," he mumbled over and over again as he thought about what she told him. She hadn't said he was the one to cause the decline of the wizarding population, but… it had to be him right? She'd called him the greatest Dark Wizard who'd ever lived.
"Fuck," he muttered as he felt his stomach roll. He felt tingly all over and suddenly there was too much saliva in his mouth, he was going to vomit, he could feel it coming.
Granger dropped a small vial into his hand. He stared at it, not comprehending what she'd just given him. It swirled in a kind of fog, and every now and then he could make out what seemed to be a face, and then it was gone again in the fog.
"My memory of that night."
Dimly he heard her pick up her bag and leave the room. All the while, Tom stared at the vial in his hands. Why had she given this to him? He didn't want to watch himself kill the only witch he ever loved.
Oh gods, he thought sickly. He loved her. He closed his eyes and closed his fist around the vial. Is that what this was? That's what he felt about her? He'd been feeling funny about her since Halloween. He'd thought it was just because he'd fucked her, but now. Now it all made sense, he loved her, he loved Granger. He hadn't thought himself capable of the emotion. But the thought of her dying of her leaving him, of him being the reason she died. It made him want to vomit and cry and destroy everything in sight, all at once. Then he wanted to lock her up in a tower and never let any harm come to her. Even if it meant he could never see her, he would do anything to keep her safe. Was this what love was? He shook his head, he didn't know. He'd never loved anyone before. He wondered if she loved him too. Merlin, he hoped so.
January 26, 1945
"Headmaster Dippet!" Tom called as he hurried to catch the wizard.
Dinner had just ended and Tom had been waiting for a moment to speak with the professor all week.
"Tom, my boy! What can I do for you?" Dippet asked as he slowed and turned to face him. He had a small grin on his face and Tom hoped that meant he was in a good mood.
"I was wondering if I might borrow a bit of time from you?" Tom asked as he fell in step with the older wizard.
"Of course, of course. Let's to my office, shall we?" Dippet said, leading the way.
They climbed the stairs in silence and once the door was firmly shut behind them, Tom fished the vial Granger had given him week's ago and held it aloft.
"Are those memories?" Dippet asked as he peered close at the vial Tom was holding.
Tom nodded, "Hermione gave them to me. Of… of the night she was sent back here."
"I see," Dippet commented. He settled himself behind his desk and didn't say anything else.
Tom knew he was waiting on him to say something. He swallowed his pride and sudden anger at the headmaster for making this harder than it needed to be.
"Do you have a pensieve I could use? She gave them to me weeks ago… and I'd like to view them sir," Tom said. He'd started out sounding confident, but by the end he was barely whispering. This showing vulnerability in front of others was hard for Tom. Not something he was used to.
"I do," Dippet confirmed. He stared at Tom for a few moments, studying him. Tom held his gaze, eventually allowing the shame and confusion to show in his eyes.
Dippet nodded and stood from the desk. He walked around to behind Tom and opened a cabinet Tom had never noticed before. It was intricately carved and Tom thought it looked like a cabinet that would hold a baptismal font in a Muggle church. Inside was a heavy stone pedestal with a large bowl setting atop it. The bowl was carved with ancient runes, but they were faded in places and Tom couldn't quite make them all out. There was a silvery liquid inside the bowl that seemed to be unnaturally calm, not even rippling when Dippet slid the pedestal forward with a flick of his wand.
"Have you used one before, Tom?" Dippet asked as he gestured for Tom to rise and join him in front of the basin.
"No, sir," Tom replied, staring into the liquid.
It didn't look anything like the memory in the vial that occasionally flashed a face. It was as smooth and reflective as a mirror.
"There are no memories in it currently. What you are seeing is the base pensieve. The ability to view memories, depends on the base. There are a few types of bases," Dippet lectured. "This is a personal base, one, sometimes two people can go in and view the memories at the time. The Wizengamot tends to use a public base, which projects the memories above the pensieve."
Tom nodded, that was a fascinating bit of magic, "Is the base a potion?"
"Indeed, a very complicated one. It takes almost three months to make," Dippet commented. "Pour the memory inside, swirl it around with your wand so that it mixes with the base. Then dip your head into the liquid."
"That's it," Dippet confirmed.
Tom nodded and took a deep breath. He uncapped the vial and dumped it into the pensieve. The faces were visible briefly and then they mixed with the shiny, metallic liquid of the base. Tom felt drawn to look at them.
He took another deep breath and lowered his face to the liquid, holding his breath. As soon as his face hit the liquid he felt as if he were falling, as if his entire body had tipped headfirst over a cliff and he tumbled.
When he hit the ground he stood quickly and found himself in the middle of a fierce battle. He drew his wand and whipped his head around wildly. A sickly yellow spell came right for him, he tried to ward it off, but nothing happened. His wand wouldn't work. He looked on horrified as the spell hit him, bracing for impact when it seemed to just sink into his body and continue on, he watched it hit a young boy behind him, a boy who didn't look old enough to be in a battle. He crumpled when the spell hit his chest.
Tom looked around and found Granger not far, fighting between two boys about her age. A redhead and a black haired boy who snarled and snapped out spells faster than Tom had ever thought possible.
They were fighting a sickening looking individual, he had blood-red eyes and was missing his nose. His skin was pale and sallow looking, almost completely white, he was entirely bald, there didn't seem to be any hair on him at all. He was dressed in a long, plain black robe and his feet were bare.
"Avada Kedavra," the ill-looking, pale man said pointing his wand at the black haired boy.
"HARRY!" Granger screamed, reaching for her friend as he crumpled to the ground.
The white-man laughed a high-pitched, breathy laugh and twitched his wand and the redhead on the other side of Granger, the redhead crumpled, blood splashing on the ground at Granger's feet.
"RON!" she cried, kneeling next to her other friend as he bled out.
She turned to face the red-eyed man, standing slowly and pointing her wand at him.
"Just Potter's little mudblood left," he sneered, pointing his own wand at her.
"You won't win, Voldemort," Granger said. Tom could hear the resolve in her voice.
Wait, did she just call that ugly thing in front of her Voldemort? That was him? That's what he looked like in her future? His eyes widened in horror as he watched Granger stare down Voldemort's wand.
"Avada Kedavra," Voldemort said coldly and Granger crumpled and then immediately disappeared. Tom looked around the area and realized he was on Hogwarts grounds, specifically standing on the front steps of Hogwarts, exactly where he'd found her.
He found himself on his feet standing in the headmaster's office. He gasped and panted at everything he'd seen. It was him. She'd been sent back in time, murdered in her own timeline by him.
Chapter 14: The Unbreakable Vow
January 26, 1945
Hermione was reading in the common room after dinner. She didn't know where Tom had gone and was a little sad she hadn't seen him. Usually, they spent evenings together, either in the common room or library. Returning to his room for sleep. Hermione had not slept in her own bed since Tom's birthday. She was getting rather used to sleeping with the wizard. She frowned as she glanced at her watch and saw that it was almost curfew. Where was he?
No sooner had the thought surfaced, than Tom burst through the entrance to the common room, the wall slid shut behind him as he looked around wildly. He saw her and Hermione watched as he seemed to calm visibly. He stalked toward her and grasped her hand, and pulled her after him.
"Tom?" Hermione asked after he had ushered her into his room and shut the door behind them.
He whirled on her and kissed her deeply, passionately, pushing her against the door at her back. Hermione wasn't complaining, she loved it when he took charge like this. She moaned at the feel of his hard, lithe body against hers. Just as suddenly as the searing kiss had begun, Tom pulled away, panting heavily as he buried his face into her neck and shoulder.
"...sorry, I'm so sorry," he muttered over and over again into her hair.
"Tom? What's wrong?" Hermione asked. She didn't know what would have happened to make him act like this.
"I won't do it, Hermione. I won't become him," Tom spat as he pulled back to look into her eyes.
Hermione searched his deep blue eyes for a moment, "You viewed the memory?"
Tom nodded, "It was horrible. How could you have… why do you…" Tom trailed off.
He stepped back quickly, holding his hands up as if she'd burned him.
Hermione felt a wave of hurt course through her. She hung her head. Of course, Tom had seen her for the Muggleborn she was. He wouldn't want anything to do with her.
"I understand," Hermione said quietly as she pulled away from the door and turned to open it.
"No!" Tom said, startling her. "No, you don't."
His voice was strained and Hermione struggled to understand.
"I killed you. I murdered you in your timeline. I watched the whole thing, Hermione. How… how could you want me?" Tom asked, his voice small and his eyes tortured.
Suddenly, Hermione understood. Tom couldn't forgive himself for something he hadn't done yet.
"Tom," Hermione pleaded.
When he didn't look at her, she stepped forward and cupped his cheek in her hand, "Tom," she said again.
Tom finally opened his eyes and looked at her.
"You aren't him. Not yet. I don't think of you as Lord Voldemort. I haven't, not since before Halloween at least. You haven't become that monster. It's… I'm in a different timeline, we have time. We can change how history plays out… I love you," Hermione admitted.
She hadn't meant to say that, she wasn't even sure when she realized that it was true, but suddenly it was. She did love him. Not only did she want to save him in order to save the rest of the world, but she wanted to save him for his sake. She wanted him. Desperately, more than she'd ever wanted anything.
He swept his arms around her once more, burying his face into her hair, and Hermione held him. She ran her hands up and down his back, soothingly, smoothing his shirt. She guided them to his bed and sat down next to him. He curled himself up so his head was in her lap and she played with his hair with one hand and rubbed his back with the other.
Tom began sobbing and Hermione couldn't stop the tears from leaking out of her own eyes at the sound. A lump formed in her throat and it was difficult to swallow.
"Nobody's…" Tom began.
"Shhh," Hermione said. She knew what he was going to say. Nobody had ever told him that they loved him before. Her own heart hurt at the thought that this brilliant, beautiful boy had never known love in his entire life.
Tom calmed after a few moments, his face was still pressed into her abdomen, his arms curled around her waist as they held each other.
"I promise," he murmured, almost too low for Hermione to hear.
Abruptly, she felt a swirl of magic around them both.
She grasped his hair and gently pulled his head back so she could see his face.
"I swear my love and fealty to you, Hermione Granger. For this life and every life after it," Tom stated seriously.
More magic swirled and Hermione gasped as it sank into her skin, causing gooseflesh to break out all over her body.
"What have you done?" she asked, slightly terrified. It felt like a Vow, like an Unbreakable Vow.
"I won't become that monster! I won't become the man that murders you! I won't be the reason that wizarding Britain loses two-thirds of its population!" Tom criedemphatically.
Hermione nodded, it was done, he'd made an Unbreakable Vow to her.
"I accept," she said seriously, her eyes not leaving his.
"Thank you," he mumbled and buried his face into her stomach once more.
Hermione nodded. But she didn't understand, not really. What had they done? What would this mean for them?
February 11, 1945
"Tom?" Hermione asked.
They had just entered his room for the night and could talk freely once more. She had been wanting to ask about his Horcruxes since he'd made the Vow to her several weeks ago. But she had been putting it off. She knew it was bound to cause a fight. And then there was the problem of the diadem. She'd been trying to see if there was a ritual used to combine soul bits that was unrelated to the repent needed to reverse a Horcrux, but so far she hadn't found anything.
What would happen if she destroyed the diadem in this time? Would it affect Tom? She was hesitant to destroy his other Horcruxes now. She was sure that the act of destroying them would make Tom less human and she wasn't willing to risk that. Not now.
"Hmm?" Tom asked as he dropped his bag next to his desk and began loosening his tie.
"What about your Horcruxes?" Hermione asked in a whisper.
Tom stiffened and Hermione winced, she knew this was going to be a fight.
"What about them?" Tom asked carefully.
"Well, maybe we can try to fix them?"
"How?" Tom snapped.
Hermione sighed. "A Horcrux can be reversed if you have true remorse for the death that made the Horcrux," she quoted.
"Which book states that?" Tom asked.
"Magick Moste Evile," Hermione said with a shrug.
Tom sighed heavily and sat on his bed. He dropped his hands into his head, rubbing at his scalp. Hermione was relieved he hadn't begun an argument over it and sat next to him, she rubbed his back lightly.
"I was going to make six," Tom admitted.
"I know," Hermione said.
"You really think I can reverse them?" he asked.
"I don't know. Only you know that."
"Maybe I can find some remorse for Warren," Tom said quietly.
"That's good," Hermione encouraged.
"I know I cannot find any for my father," Tom spat suddenly.
"Alright, that's... that's okay. It might work out anyway," Hermione replied, thinking about the diadem.
"What do you mean? I'd still be down a portion of my soul."
"Maybe not," Hermione said. She reached into the beaded bag and pulled out the diadem.
Tom looked entranced as soon as he set eyes on it again. It was kind of fascinating how drawn Tom was to a piece of soul that maybe didn't belong to him. Or did it? It was confusing to think about.
"This is a Horcrux," Hermione said, emphasizing the diadem she was holding.
Tom reached for it and she allowed him to take it from her.
"Who's?" he asked.
Tom's brow furrowed and he tore his eyes from the diadem to look at her once more.
"From the future? His, you mean?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes."
"How could I have remorse for a death I didn't cause?"
"I think there might be another way to force your souls to meld. I've been looking into it. There are other soul injuries, though they are rare."
Tom nodded and Hermione didn't like the look in his eyes. She slowly reached out and took the diadem from him. She stuffed it back into her beaded bag and watched as Tom shook himself, seeming to come back to the present and not wherever the diadem sent him each time he saw it.
March 3, 1945
Hermione had been looking for weeks, and finally, finally, she found the ritual she was looking for. It was part ritual, part potion. And they'd need a circle, a natural circle that was close to a ley line. Hermione rubbed her head, circles and ley lines, these were things that most modern witches and wizards didn't bother with. Not since adopting wands more than a thousand years ago.
She knew that Hogwarts was a very magical place, so it only made sense that there were ley lines nearby. Maybe Armando would know? Hogwarts was ancient, there had to be a ritual circle or two nearby as well. She'd hate to have to go all the way down to Sainsbury. Stonehenge was the only one she knew about, but the Picts were a magical people, there had to be circles in Scotland as well. Hermione sighed as she gazed at her watch, dinner wouldn't be for another hour and a half or so. She gathered her books and headed for the Headmasters office.
Tom was off doing, Merlin knew what, Hermione hadn't questioned him when he'd made some vague remark about things he needed to do. Maybe he was disbanding his Knights? Hermione snorted at the thought as she whispered the password to the gargoyle guarding the headmaster's office.
"Hermione, my dear!" Armando greeted as she stepped through the doorway. "Have a seat. Would you like tea?"
Hermione smiled and nodded at her guardian. He poured for them both as Hermione settled into an armchair in front of his fireplace.
"What can I do for you?" Armando asked as he levitated Hermione's teacup to her.
"I was wondering what you knew about ley lines and ritual circles," Hermione began. No use beating around the bush, Dippet wasn't as thick as he liked to pretend. He was rather like Dumbledore that way, except less biased against Slytherins.
"Oh! Doing some ritual magic are we? Hmmm, well there are several ley lines that cross the Hogwarts grounds, of course. There may be a ritual circle in the dungeons somewhere, but I'm guessing you need to do the ritual under the stars?"
"Yes, yes, well I think your best bet would be the stones near Killilan. You know where that's at?"
"I think so," Hermione nodded trying to remember where Killian was in regards to Hogwarts. "Maybe fifty kilometers southwest of here?"
"That's it. I've been before if you'd like to me Apparate you there. That way you can get there on your own in the future."
"I'd like that," Hermione grinned at him.
"The Killilan stones are used fairly frequently, so be sure to stop at the White Wyvern in town to see if anything local will be going on before you begin a ritual."
"They won't mind that I'm not a local?" Hermione asked.
"Nah, Killian's stones are used by everyone north of the borders. Tiny little hamlet, hardly any Muggle's around, and the ones that are, are pretty much in the know anyway."
"Really?" Hermione was fascinated. She didn't know there were communities like that.
"This far north, the Ministry tends to turn a blind eye as long as nobody complains," Armando shrugged. "Am I allowed to know what sort of ritual you are doing?"
"Er… it's not for me," Hermione said.
"Ah, say no more, my dear," Armando grinned at her.
Hermione spent a few more minutes with him before making her excuses. She had a potion to brew and still needed to find Tom. It was Saturday, so the earliest they would even be able to get away for any ritual would be next weekend. And she still had to get Tom to agree. It wasn't going to be easy, melding two bits of his soul together, but it should at least be less painful than the remorse needed to reverse a horcrux. Or at least that's what she hoped.
She was finally able to track Tom down at dinner that evening. He'd been holding court with his Knights when Hermione walked in, she knew who they were, Abraxas Malfoy, Thoros Nott, a Lestrange, Selwyn, and a Dolohov. Tom smirked at her when she walked in and made Abraxas move down the bench, creating a spot for her between the two of them. Hermione was still wary of Abraxas, he had tried to kill her after all, but Tom assured her it had been handled. She wasn't sure if she should feel bad about that or not. She suspected it had been a painful lesson for Abraxas.
Dinner was a stilted affair, as it always was when Tom made her eat amongst his Knights. They generally ignored her, but at the same time, clearly, didn't feel comfortable enough to speak about anything when she was present. So there were lots of heavy, awkward silences. All in all, Hermione was glad when dinner was over.
"I have some news," Hermione muttered to Tom as he pulled her up from the bench.
Tom lifted a brow at her and she smirked up at him. "Maybe we should retire early?"
Tom's grin turned wicked. "I'll be going to bed early tonight, gentlemen," he announced to the group as he led Hermione from the hall.
Hermione allowed him to pull her into his room and things heated quickly. She really had meant to tell him about the ritual, but the things his tongue did to her body made her forget all else.
They lay in bed afterward, Hermione half-laying on his chest, as Tom played with her curls.
"I found a ritual for the diadem," Hermione announced.
"Mmm-hmm, it's complicated. We need a stone circle, near a ley line, and there's a potion you have to drink too. But it'll work."
Hermione tightened her arms around him and Tom responded by rolling them until he hovered over her.
Hermione nodded and grinned happily.
"You are fucking amazing," Tom breathed as he dipped his head and kissed her.
Chapter 15: His Witch
March 17, 1945
It took two weeks to gather all of the ingredients for the potion and for Granger and Tom to find the time to brew. Tom was excited and nervous about the ritual. Granger had Apparated them to a set of standing stones, and March in Scotland meant it was still very cold with a little snow on the ground yet. Tom set about preparing the circle as Granger built a fire at opposite the altar. Tom lay several cleansing charms on the circle as a whole, then he found the ley lines nearby and bound them to the stones. Considering every ritual started that way, it was rather easy. The ley lines wanted to come to the circle because this particular circle had been in use for a few thousand years.
Tom could feel the age of the place as soon as they had appeared. He felt in awe of the power that these stones had seen over the course of their lifetime. Granger had been sure to clear the ritual with the locals, and they weren't likely to be interrupted, but Tom still cast a few privacy wards and repelling charms. This ritual would leave his soul open and bared and unprotected by his body, he did not want anyone else around. It was hard enough to trust Granger to perform the ritual for him. He breathed deeply as he shook out his limbs, willing himself to relax. He trusted Granger, he'd made an Unbreakable Vow to her, she wouldn't let him down.
"Ready?" she called from inside the stones.
Tom nodded and began taking off his clothes, glad for the warmth of the fire lit at the south end of the stones.
There was an altar stone at the north end that Tom had to lie on. The diadem was already set atop it. Tom disrobed completely and laid flat on the altar stone on his back, staring up at the starry sky above. He shivered in the chilly air.
"Sorry," Granger muttered and cast a warming charm over him.
Tom nodded his thanks.
"Okay, drink the potion, then I'll start the ritual."
Granger held the potion vial to his lips, and Tom drank it down. It was cold and tasteless, it felt like slipping into a cold lake at night. Tom's eyes widened when he heard Granger begin the chant. The stars above seemed to double, then triple in number. He didn't know if it was the potion or the ritual. Part of the ritual was summoning a deity to help with the soul meld. Granger had decided on Brigid, it was the right season for her, and she was known to have a soft-spot for orphans. Tom just hoped she was right and that at least if the soul meld didn't work, he'd get what remained of his soul back. Granger was convinced that's what would happen if the ritual failed, Tom chose to believe her and not dwell on other, scarier possibilities.
Unexpectedly, Granger's chanting grew and Tom gasped, a small, brilliantly white ball of light escaped his mouth. He watched it float above him and another, smaller ball joined it. It was beautiful and fascinating and Tom was dying to sit up and see what else was going on. He could dimly hear Granger speaking. She was no longer chanting, in fact, it almost sounded as if she were speaking to someone else. Was it the goddess? Was Granger negotiating with a goddess on his behalf? He strained his ears, trying to hear more of their conversation.
Then, the conversation ended. There was a magnificent flash of light from the two small balls, what he assumed was his soul and the soul piece from the diadem. It almost blinded him, the flash was so bright and he gasped again and his soul, combined with the soul from the diadem drifted back into his mouth. Tom felt it when it lodged inside him. He felt full. Fuller than he'd ever felt. It energized him and caused gooseflesh to break out all over his skin.
Granger was chanting once more and with an explosive flare from the fire popped loudly, sending sparks skyward and then dimmed. The ritual was over.
"You did it," Tom whispered as Granger leaned over him to see if he was alright.
Granger grinned, "How do you feel?"
"Amazing, incredible. I can't believe it worked! I can't believe you did it!" Tom exclaimed.
He reached out, a hand on either side of her face and pulled her to him for a kiss. She was unbelievable. He had never felt surer of the Unbreakable Vow he had taken than he did at that moment. She deserved everything he could ever give her. He swore to himself he would give her the world.
March 21, 1944
Tom wanted to bang his head against the wall. Myrtle Warren was as impossible in death as she was in life.
"... and then that great beast just stared at me. And I was dead. Just like that!"
"I know, and Myrtle, I swear, I hadn't meant to kill you," Tom said for the thousandth time since he walked into the girls' loo that evening. He hoped to work up enough remorse that he could incorporate at least this Horcrux back into his soul. But Myrtle was proving difficult.
"Really? And that ritual you performed afterward? You were panting on the floor for hours," Myrtle chortled as she floated circles around him. Her hands reaching out to brush along his shoulders. Tom stiffened but tamped down the urge to shudder at her touch. This wasn't working. He was just going to have to live with the fact that he had two Horcruxes.
"Yes, and again, so sorry," Tom said. "But I really must be going."
He dashed out the door before Warren could say anything else and headed toward his room. Granger had known of the plan and had decided to wait for him in his room. Dinner was going on at the moment, Tom felt it would be better if he could make the apology when nobody else was around. He'd forgotten how horrible Myrtle Warren truly was.
"How'd it go?" Granger asked brightly, then deflated at the look on his face.
"I'm sorry, I just couldn't. Have you ever talked to her?" Tom asked, running a hand through his hair in frustration.
"I know," Granger agreed. "She can be pretty awful."
"Well, I couldn't do it. I think I'm just going to have to have two Horcruxes. I don't know what else to do. I…" Tom didn't want to ask Granger to destroy the Horcruxes. He thought that maybe, that would hurt them both on some level.
"I have a backup plan."
"Of course, we knew you weren't going to be able to be remorseful enough to reverse the one you made for your father's death," Granger sniffed. "I created this." She pulled out a beautiful metal box. It was gold and was carved with all manner of ancient runes.
"What is it?" Tom asked as he sat next to her on the bed.
She handed him the box, it was heavier than it looked, and Tom closed his eyes, he could feel the magic hum and buzz beneath his fingertips.
"It's a lock," Granger explained. "I put a ward on it. The ward will periodically reach out and search for the rest of your soul. Feel how it reaches for you?"
Tom nodded, he felt an affinity for it, similar to the way he'd felt about the diadem before they'd combined his soul with the piece from his future self.
"That's the ward. If it finds your soul, nothing happens. If it doesn't, it's set with a self-contained fiendfyre ward. It'll kill the two Horcruxes once we place them inside."
"Fiendfyre? How did you contain it?"
"A lot of runes," Granger laughed lightly. "And I plan to place it at the bottom of Black Lake. Even if the fiendfyre somehow leaks out, the pressure and weight of the water should be enough to put it out pretty quickly."
"That's really brilliant," Tom murmured as he examined the box. The number of runes and charms she'd have to layer to make it all work. And the ward alone was ingenious.
"How did you get the ward to recognize my soul?" Tom asked.
"Well, it actually feeds off of the Horcruxes inside. So because they contain parts of your soul, it looks for the soul that matches. Theoretically, if you had a soul-mate out there somewhere, that lived after your death, the Horcruxes may not be killed, as the ward would recognize your soul-mate as having the same soul as you. So, that's the added precaution of hiding it in the lake."
"And if reincarnation happens?" Tom asked.
"Nothing is foolproof," Granger shrugged. "Even if reincarnation happens, do we think your soul would reincarnate with two pieces of it missing?"
Tom hummed, she had a point, it was unlikely his soul would be eligible for reincarnation until the two Horcruxes were destroyed.
"Are you truly worried I have a soul-mate out there?" Tom asked with a smirk.
Granger laughed, "I think it's unlikely." She grinned at him brilliantly.
"I kind of think she's sitting right in front of me," Tom said as he placed the lock on the bed behind him and pulled her in for a blistering kiss.
After several moments, Granger pulled away from him.
"We should set up the lock," she whispered as she leaned her forehead against his.
Tom nodded. Better to get it done and over with. He pulled out his wand and made a complicated twirl and wriggle and a hidden drawer on his desk popped open.
He stood and pulled the drawer open entirely, pulling the diary and the ring out. Granger looked at them apprehensively, as she opened the lid of the lock. Tom saw the inside was made of a gleaming maple wood and was covered in runes.
"The wood should help the fiendfyre burn until the Horcruxes are destroyed."
Tom nodded and placed them inside. He was a little nervous that the lock would malfunction and destroy them instantly. But when Granger shut the lid, nothing happened. Tom breathed a sigh of relief. He knew Granger was brilliant, she'd not led him wrong yet.
"Want to take a moonlit stroll around the lake with me?" Granger grinned up at him.
Tom laughed, "Of course, my lady," he affected a silly bow as he held out his hand for her to take.
They made quick work of exiting the castle and Granger guided them to the far side of the lake, where they couldn't be seen by anyone inside the castle. She transfigured a small boat from a leaf and they both stepped inside. A quick charm and they were soon propelled across the lake.
Granger ran a depth charm as Tom steered the boat, "Right here," she mumbled. They weren't quite in the center of the lake, but it would be the deepest spot.
The giant squid popped a tentacle up, to see what they were doing. Granger reached a handout and patted it lightly.
"We're going to drop this box now," she told the squid. Tom rolled his eyes like the giant squid cared.
"Make sure it gets to the deepest crevice," Granger said.
The squid actually flipped its tentacle-like it was nodding yes. Granger smiled and set the box on the top of the water.
"Ready?" she asked him, looking over her shoulder to catch Tom's eye.
"Do it," Tom replied and she let go.
The weight of the box made it sink instantly. Tom made to start steering the boat back to shore, but Granger stopped him.
"Let's wait a minute," she said.
Tom nodded and waited. He had no idea what they were waiting for, but suddenly the squid was back. Tom hadn't even realized it left. It flipped its tentacle again and Granger gave it one last pet.
"Let's go. It's done," she said.
Tom nodded and guided them back to shore.
April 30, 1945
Tom had been working on the potion for a month, and he finally had it completed. The ingredients had been easy to find, the hardest part was finding a week he could be out of Granger's company for several hours every night.
He'd finally just told her he had a bunch of Head Boy duties he'd been neglecting and hoped to get caught up on them. He was sure she hadn't bought the excuse, but Tom didn't care too much. Creating the potion to figure out how much Anamoran Granger had was more important. And if she had a lot, Tom wondered how he could use that to his advantage. Maybe he should go out and save some lives in the hopes of creating unacknowledged life debts. Or did the magic not work that way? If he set out to gather Anamoran, selfishly, would the magic not work? Tom didn't know.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts as he decanted the potion in front of him. He was due to meet Granger and finish studying for Transfiguration. If he had the potion, would she take it? He was sure she was as curious as he was about how many Anamoran she had. He wondered how the potion manifested? Would she know which lives she'd saved, and were therefore now dead? Or would it just show her a number? They hadn't actually discussed the Anamoran since the end of November. He didn't know her thoughts on it, but he was sure she wanted to take the potion.
He grabbed the potion bottle and peered at it, it was a luminescent violet. Tom pocketed it and left his dorm room to find Granger in the library. He thought about his Knights as he went. He knew they were going to become a problem between he and Granger. It was only a matter of time before she brought them up.
The Knights of Walpurgis weren't totally useless, he mused. Maybe if he made it more of a social club, with less torturing, Granger would be able to live with that. He'd have to ask her. And figure out a different way to gather power in the wizarding world. It was his end-game after all. Power. Maybe he could become Minister for Magic. Maybe the youngest Minister for Magic ever. Tom grinned at that thought as he opened the library doors. He soon found Granger at her usual table in the back. Her head was down, as her hand flowed over the parchment.
"Hello, Tom," Granger greeted him without looking up.
Secretly, he was always a little impressed that she seemed to know it was him every time.
"Hermione," Tom said warmly and produced the potion bottle. He waited for her to look up.
"Is that?" she trailed off as she looked at him questioningly.
"The Anamoran Potion? It is," Tom replied with a grin.
"Is that what you've been doing all week?" Granger asked, returning his grin and standing up.
"Mmm-hmmm, it wasn't easy foisting you off," Tom harrumphed.
His fake frown turned into a grin at Granger's giggle. He had never liked listening to girls giggle and simper. It was disgusting and childish behavior. But he'd found that getting Granger to laugh or giggle was one of his favorite things.
Granger looked scared suddenly, "What does it do?"
Tom shrugged, "None of the books I found were clear on that."
"Maybe you should take it somewhere private?" Tom suggested.
Granger nodded and began packing up her things. Then she grasped Tom's hand, lacing their fingers and pulled him from the library. She headed up toward the Room of Requirement. Both were slightly out of breath by the time they reached the seventh floor. Tom allowed Granger to pace and was pleased when she called for the Slytherin common room. It was one of his favorite places, and the ability to enjoy it without anyone else was even better.
Tom led her to the couch in front of the fire and had her sit down. She complied and he handed her the potion bottle, which she took, her hands trembling slightly.
"It's alright," Tom said as he sat next to her and curled his arm around her shoulders. "I'm right here. I won't let anything bad happen."
"What - what if I have to relive every time I've saved someone's life?" Granger whispered.
"Then we'll be here awhile," Tom joked.
He was pleased when she huffed a small laugh. She squared her shoulders, screwed up her eyes and drank the potion down. Nothing happened. Not for a moment. Then slowly, Granger opened first one eye, then the other.
"Nothing happened," she said.
Tom was busy looking above her head, and so Granger followed his gaze and gasped. Above Granger's head were large bright purple numbers, '16'.
"Sixteen," Tom whispered.
"Nimue's tiny toe," Granger replied. "1,280 years."
"What?" Tom asked.
Granger looked at him and explained, "Armando had three Anamoran. He was born in 1637. He thinks that because the life debts were never 'used up' they added to his lifespan. About eighty years a life debt. Sixteen times eighty is an extra 1,280 years."
"On top of your hundred and fifty-year expectancy?" Tom asked
"Fuck," Tom breathed. That was a lot of years to live. That was older than Hogwarts. That was, practically immortality. Granger seemed to realize when his thoughts shifted.
"They have to be unacknowledged life debts," Granger reminded him. "It also means, that all of those people I saved… they're dead in my timeline." Granger sniffed and looked away from him.
Immediately, Tom felt remorseful. What a terrible burden, to have saved so many lives, only to know it was in vain. That they died anyway. But what a blessing, they died and she received the extra life. It was kind of amazing, really.
"Tom," Granger said and grasped his arm.
"Unacknowledged," she reminded him.
"I'm just calculating the odds of it happening. And maybe you should think about it too," Tom said.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, maybe don't go saving anyone's life," Tom suggested.
"Not even yours?" Granger lifted an eyebrow.
Tom grinned, "Oh, I'd acknowledge that life debt."
Granger laughed, "Of course, you would, you snake."
Tom leaned in and kissed her lips very gently. "You can save my life anytime," Tom whispered as he kissed down her jaw and nipped her earlobe.
Granger hummed in satisfaction and wrapped her arms around his neck, dragging him closer.
Tom grinned even as he pulled her on top of him. He didn't know what the future held. But he knew with this witch by his side, he would be powerful. That was all he could ask for. Power and his witch.