Tom stood silently watching the quaint house that was situated just outside of London, illuminated by the nearby street lamps and the half moon shinning above. He was leaning against a tall oak tree that was across the street, it’s low hanging branches waving lightly in the wind.
This was Tom’s fourth visit to the house since finding out who she was and where she lived. Each time he would visit he would cast a dillusionment charm on himself and just watch silently from between the oak tree branches. Watching as the muggles moved throughout the house trying to catch glimpses of her. He had only had one brief glimpse of her on his first visit when they had arrived home in a silver car. He watched as her mother, a short woman with brown curly hair that came just passed her shoulders, got out of the front seat and opened the back door pulling out a small bundle of pink.
He couldn’t help the feeling of his heart beating faster against his rib cage as he realised that his mate was less than 20 feet away from him. He continued watching the bundle being carried to the house, never taking his eyes of her until she was hidden from view upon entering the front door.
It was that visit, that brief glimpse of her that had kept him coming back these other times waiting and watching to see her again. But apart from a few silhouetted images of her through the windows he had been unsuccessful. It was only on his last visit, another unsuccessful watch, that he decided he would try something different next time, and that was why this time he had come at night instead of during the day.
Tom’s eyes where fixated up on one of the windows on the top story, the only window that still had light coming from it. He had guessed that that was where her parents slept and he was waiting for that light to go out before he crept into the house.
He huffed in annoyance as another 10 minutes went by without the light going out. His patience was growing thin as he had already been there for over two hours waiting silently by the tree. He had considered briefly giving up on tonight, going back to Malfoy Manor and just coming back another time. But he had never properly seen her and each day that went by without getting to see her a deeper need and desire grew in him. They were feelings that he had never felt before and it was getting harder and harder to just watch from a distance.
So he gritted his teeth and remained by the tree his mind wandering to when he first learnt of her name.
3 Weeks ago
Tom sat rigidly in the stiff chair of the muggle hospital screwing his nose up at the disinfectant smell that burned his nose and the loud screaming voices of children that were playing on the floor nearby hurt his ears.
This was his third visit to a hospital in the past two weeks. It had taken him quite a while to get over the idea that his mate would be a muggleborn. He had gone on a four week long ‘vacation’ as his followers had called it, to Albania where he had brooded and cursed at his misfortune at having a ‘lowly’ born mate. He had spent most of the time either cursing nearby animals and trees that had unfortunately crossed his path or drinking himself into a stupor. On the moments he wasn’t drunk or practicing the Dark Arts he spent time wracking his brain for any possible way out of the fate that Slytherin had bestowed on him.
He had finally gotten over the issue by remembering what the portrait of Slytherin had said to him all those years ago, ‘one can not survive without the other.’ Although Tom had collected vessel’s of importance to him that could be used for making Horcruxes, a plan in case he or she rejected the curse, he didn’t particularly like the idea of damaging his soul beyond repair. If he even had a soul though he had thought bitterly. He had also admitted to himself quietly as he sat drinking from a half empty bottle of fire whisky, that a small part of him, somewhere deep inside, longed for the idea of someone who was essentially made for him.
That knowledge and small admittance to himself along with the understanding that even though she was a muggleborn she was still a witch and according to Slytherin and the Prophecy, his supposed equal in magical abilities. And thus he had justified a most powerful witch at that.
Therefore he had eventually come to the ability to overlook her birth and instead focus on the idea that she was a powerful witch who would worship his very existence and a witch he would be able to train and command. Once he had found her of course.
On his return to England he had spent the next few weeks trying to search for a child with the initials HJG and born on the 19th of September 1979. To say it was like looking for happiness in Azkaban would be an understatement. After getting over the fact that he actually had to enter the muggle world and interact with them, as there was no way he could get his followers to carry out the task without being questioned, he quickly came to realise that without any real information on the witch, aside from her initials and birthdate, he wasn’t going to get anywhere. It was also difficult finding the time amongst his plans to actually go into the muggle world.
On the times when he was able to enter the muggle world and after being refused access to birth records again and again he had discovered that the best way to achieve his goals was to just imperio the receptionist into allowing him to hand over the necessary information.
But after visiting two hospitals already and having found nothing he was getting slightly anxious at ever finding her. Which is why he was waiting for the receptionist at his third hospital today.
Tom briefly looked to his left as an old woman who smelt of mothballs and looked about 250 years old sat down next to him. He glared at her wondering why the old bat had to sit right next to him and not in one of the other empty seats.
He realised the universe really had it in for him when the old idiot actually started talking to him.
“You are just such a handsome young man aren’t you, may I ask do you have a wife or girlfriend? Because my granddaughter is newly single and…”
Tom clenched his fist trying to tune out the woman’s insistent blabbing and forcing himself not to grab his wand and curio the woman right then and there when she suddenly grabbed his sleeve to gain his attention.
After clenching his fists so tightly he thought a vein might pop and running through all the curses and hexes he would like to bestow on the woman next to him he was relieved when the receptionist called out the fake name he had given her.
“John Rivers” she said.
Tom stood abruptly brushing off the old woman’s grip on him and strode purposefully up to the desk his hand reaching for his wand that was hidden in one of his robe pockets. Carefully slipping it out, ensuring that no one was watching he pointed it at the woman before muttering a quite imperio. He watched as the woman’s eyes glazed over and the familiar dazed look came over her face.
“Hand me all the birth reports from September of last year,” He said in a commanding tone.
The woman complied immediately. As if pulled by strings like a puppet she opened a metal draw underneath her desk and flicked through some files before pulling out a thick folder and handed it over to Tom without uttering a single question. Quickly he opened it up and scanned through the names looking for the initials of his mate. His eyes landed on them almost immediately and he sucked in a breath at finally having learned of her name.
Hermione Jean Granger born 19/9/1979 to Jean and Richard Granger at 7.40am.
He didn’t have to read any further to know that it was her. Something in him just knew instinctively that this was the witch he had been searching for.
“Hermione,” he whispered just above his breath trying out the sound of her name. His heart did a small jump at the sound of it and he was surprised to find himself actually wanting to say her name again.
He saw that underneath Hermione’s birth information was a listed address, 28 Morgana Grove, Hampstede Garden. He took a mental note of the address before handing the witch back the folder and striding out of the hospital, for the first time ever the hint of a genuine smile on the edge of his lips.
Tom’s attention to the present time was brought back by the turning off of the light behind the window that his eyes had previously been fixated on.
He choose to wait for another 10 minutes to give the muggles time to fall asleep before silently walking across the street and to the front door of the house.
He drew his wand and said a quite Alohomora before pushing open the door. He froze momentarily as the deafening sound of the door squeaking on its hinges met his ears. Cursing inwardly at the muggles for not fixing it he gently pushed it open again more slower than before and crept inside.
He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the dark hallway he found himself in. He looked to his right through an open archway to a large area trying to make out the shadowy objects situated there. He noticed a large couch like shape and several other chair looking shapes surrounding what he thought was a small table. To his left was a closed doorway and beyond that a large staircase. At the end of the hallway was another door that was also closed. Tom slowly walked forward careful to tread lightly on the floor boards, hoping he wasn’t as loud as he thought he was.
He had a general idea of where her room was in the house having seen through the windows her mother go in and out of a room on the top floor with bottles and the likes quite regularly.
He crept silently up the stairs trying to control his breathing as his heart thumped quickly in his chest at the prospect of finally seeing her.
Once he reached the top of the stairs, he paused momentarily, listening for any signs that someone had heard him making his way up them. After hearing nothing and releasing a small sigh he turned right and then carefully pushed open the first door on his left, thankful that this the door opened smoothly and without any noise.
It opened into another dark room that smelt like fresh sheets and cinnamon and something else he couldn’t quite put his finger on but that had him inhaling deeply. He could make out more clearly some of the furniture and objects in this room as they were illuminated by the moonlight let in by the open curtains. Against the wall closest to him was a table of sorts with a soft cushion on top of it and what appeared to be a small draw or cupboard next to that with several small undistinguishable things sitting atop it. Underneath the window was a large chest which he presumed held toys and other things babies needed.
He stopped his observations of the room suddenly at the sound of a breathy sigh coming from a cot that was pushed against the far wall.
His heart beating even faster he took slow hesitant steps towards the cot his wand out and casting a light on his surrounds.
Hesitantly he looked down into the cot and faltered at the sight of the sleeping child before him.
She was just so tiny, was Tom’s first thought as he gazed at her peacefully sleeping form.
She was partially covered by a white and pink blanket her left arm up near her face and her hand clenched tightly in a little fist. He noticed that she had some soft light brown hair on the top of her head that curled at the ends and that her cheeks were flushed slightly pink from the warmth of the room. He had to fight the urge to reach out and touch her cheek, to feel the warmth for himself.
Tom continued to gaze down quietly at the her for a while just taking in her features and listening to her breathe.
He had seen plenty of babies before at the orphanage that he had grown up in, but he had never had any interest in them. Only finding them annoying as they cried too much and always needed something or someone. But he seemed captivated by this tiny sleeping girl.
“Hermione” he whispered ever so faintly, finding it hard to comprehend that this child was his soulmate, as if saying her name made it more real.
All of a sudden he heard a thump coming from somewhere in the house and he whipped his head around looking for the source of the sound as his heart spiked in fear before he quickly squashed the unwanted feeling down.
His inner turmoil at having had a shamefully weak reaction to the foreign noise was stopped when he became aware of the sound of shuffling feet coming down the hallway in his direction. He cursed under his breath at having realised one of the parents must be awake and coming to check on their sleeping daughter.
He took one last look at Hermione before silently apparating back to his chambers in Malfoy Manor.
Tom arrived in his room with a pop and stalked over to the door slamming it shut so hard dust fell from the ceiling. He angrily cast some wards and silencing charms on his chambers and then stormed into his private bathroom, quickly undressing before stepping into the shower. He let the hot spray of the shower run over him as he slammed his fist into the tiled wall, not caring if he broke every one of them to pieces.
He was furious with himself.
'How could he the Dark Lord have felt such a shamefully weak human feeling such as fear! He was not weak ! He did not feel things like that . He did not feel at all !
What could he possibly have to fear in a muggle house anyway!?'
Tom continued punching his fists into the tiles, his body so numb with fury that he didn’t even feel the pain. He only stopped when the water ran red with his blood and his anger had subsided enough for him to not go out and kill some useless unfortunate souls.
He muttered a healing charm over his bruised and bloodied knuckles not even caring that he had taken his anger out in such a muggle way, before sliding into the large canopy bed, his breathing still ragged and his heart still pumping with adrenalin.
It was only when he was on the brink of sleep did he realise that what he had felt back at the house had not been fear of something out to get him. But instead fear for the small child in the cot behind him. Fear that something was coming for her and what was most shocking, fear that he could not protect her from whatever it was.
Those last thoughts kept him awake all night.