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Curses, Charms and Blood Sacrifices

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When Hermione Granger came back in time to stop the rise of Lord Voldemort, she had underestimated one thing.

Tom Riddle’s charm.

She knew he was brilliant, but so was she. Hermione Granger was one that everyone, always, had underestimated due to her gender. Her house. Her appearance. Her personality. But Hermione Granger was brilliant, and everyone who had ever known her could never argue with that.

But Hermione Granger was not charming. And, as she was learning, that was everything.

She watched as he smiled and laughed, chatting with students before class. A council, mostly consisting of Slytherins, but also Ravenclaws, and a few Gryffindors. A solid fifteen of them gathered around his desk, listening to him as he sat upon the small wooden desk as if it was a throne. On anyone else, the position would look childish, like a rebellious teenager faking their own authority. But on Tom Riddle, it was authority, it was brilliance. And the perception of brilliance is everything compared to that of actual brilliance.

Although neither one could ever prove it, Hermione Granger was truly just as smart as Tom Riddle ever would be. But she didn’t have his viciousness. His cruelty. Nor his charm. And that was what made him many times more powerful than she would ever be.

She appeared in their fifth year of schooling, an unassuming transfer from Ilvermorny. Horned Serpent, Hermione Granger claimed to be, a half-blood with a father distantly related to the Dagworth-Grangers of England and a Muggleborn mother. And why would they doubt her? She’d permanently transfigured (mutilated, her mind whispered) her vocal cords to provide the necessary American accent. And although they had found the new Ravenclaw to be someone of interest for the first few months, they soon learnt that she was no one special.

“House of the mind?” His voice had the accent only that of the upper class had, and she wondered if he’d perfected it during his time at the orphanage or only afterwards, when the purebloods of Slytherin would have mocked his London drawl. “Hardly different from Ravenclaw, don’t you think?”

Rather than rehearse the lines she had learnt, than to reinforce her carefully constructed backstory by retelling the tales Harry and she had thought of whilst wandering the halls of Ilvermorny itself, whilst standing under the statue of Isolt Sayre herself, Hermione knew indifference to be the best defence. Just because she was not manipulative naturally did not mean she could not learn to be so, “Well, I guess it made sense then,” she chuckles, responding to his statement as if she had heard it a million times before.

“Tom Riddle,” he had no true response to her, he had surely expected some sort of defence from his thinly veiled insult. Ravenclaw, she knew he thought to be, from talking to those who had known him years later, was the house of minds never to be used, whilst Slytherin held all those who would truly use their minds for good. Instead, he introduced himself, holding his hand out as if in greeting, “Fifth-year Prefect. Slytherin.”

She smiled, as she knew that she was not supposed to realise that this was an interrogation rather than a friendly introduction, “Hermione Granger,” her voice sounds strange, it will never be her own once again, “Fifth-year. Ravenclaw as you already know.”

Everyone at Hogwarts introduces themselves with their House attached as if it meant anything. As if every person fitted into four boxes. She supposed they did, once they were here. They moulded themselves into the lines provided, and by fifth year, they were all already fitting the perfect stereotypes. She found the introductions ironic as if she could not see the emblem sewn into his robes.

She once proposed that Hogwarts get rid of houses. She was thought insane. So she proved them wrong, built her own school. And then it was burnt to the ground.

Whether it was blood prejudice or pure resentment she would never know.

And now, it would never happen.

Three months, two weeks and four days. She had spent over two years with Tom Riddle, watching him from afar. After those first few weeks, he lost interest, as she was not just an occulumens. Tom Riddle was a legimens, but he was not familiar with the idea of ‘false mind’, due to its invention in the year 2032, by Hermione herself. A structure of thoughts believable to the reader, that the occulumens could control. Not many had ever mastered it, but it was useful here. To be a true occulumens, one who could defend against Lord Voldemort himself would be suspicious. To be an ordinary girl, thinking of what to buy her mother for Christmas and of upcoming tests, was not.

The Hermione Granger she was as a child would have hated this. Two years and five months of unassuming nonsense. Of talking of crushes, of keeping her head downs, of Es and never Os and a few devastating As. This Hermione Granger was average so that the future one could be brilliant.

Looking back on it, Hermione supposed she was manipulative. She manipulated time to make her own future more successful. She was worse than Tom Riddle, truly.

But not really, because she was saving the world. The future.

A time turner around her neck, she had smashed it as she travelled back in time, cursing the sand left behind. Both in the magical sense, and the mundane. Because damnit all, if Hermione wasn’t truly terribly afraid of what was to come next. Two years of spending day after day in the same castle as a murderer, in the same classroom as a psychopath, two years of biding her time.

But even as she was afraid, she still did it. And that’s why, after all this time, the Sorting Hat still debated those two same houses, as it did when she was a young girl of eleven.

Truly eleven. Because, although she was 18 now, with her ‘Birthday’ once again being the 19th of September for simplicity, she was actually far, far older than that.

Not that it really mattered. She found that age was merely a measure of wisdom, but not of intelligence, compassion nor strength. Most things that mattered were dependent on that, rather than her knowledge itself.

And that was why Hermione Granger would never feel guilt about Tom Riddle.

Never.

She stalked him on the Marauder’s Map, the magical artifact still functioning no matter that the birth of its creators had not yet occurred. Possibly would not occur. There were consequences to messing with time.

But she had never expected this. She had calculated, schemed and yet she still thought she had out-thought him. Not this time.

“What do you think you’ve been doing,” the impeccable Head boy held his wand up to her throat, his cold blue eyes had lost their gleam, his perfect mask having slipped off his face.

“Me?” Hermione heard her voice shake, and she hadn’t had to fake it. She is terrified. He is a definite match. She isn’t sure who would win, and she has to be sure it would be her. “What do you mean?”

“You know perfectly what I mean, Miss Granger,” his voice sounded like a snarl, more animal than human. Her heart pounds in her chest, in a way it hadn’t in years. The cool vial of sand from her time turner was pressed against her and is the only reminder she needs of why she is here.

He still hadn’t taken her wand. He still underestimated her.

Her hand twitched and she slowly edged towards her back pocket, to the wand tucked into the waistband of her skirt, anywhere else would be a rather obvious place to store it. It’s a common myth that one’s wand can go off in their back pocket, misfire and light fire to their pants. Quite ridiculous, if you ask Hermione, but a handy myth in times like this.

“Well, you just seem so interesting,” she attempted to play to his ego, to his masculine arrogance, because if anyone has ever been a narcissist, it was Tom Riddle, “And I just really wanted to get to know you.”

He smiled, more of a smirk than a smile because Tom Riddle has never been a man to feel innocent joy, “Now, now,” his voice was playful, mocking as if he was a boy just teasing a girl he liked in the halls. His mouth was by her ear, and she could feel his warm breath, “we both know that isn’t quite the truth, is it.” His voice was barely a whisper, more of a breath than anything else, and, against her best wishes, her breath caught in her throat. “’Magick Most Evil’? ‘Secrets of the Darkest Art’? Perseus Nott’s ‘Fifty-one long-forgotten curses’? I hardly think you are innocent, Miss Granger.”

She looked away, glancing at the stone tiles that line the halls of Hogwarts. Her hand was now by her wand, and she just has to wait for the moment to strike. But the slight blush that lines her cheeks was not just an act, “It’s better to be known as a sinner than a hypocrite,” her soft tone matches his own.

“And who defines sin? Whoever has the power to define it,” now, his grin is hardly a falsehood, she saw the manic gleam behind his eyes, the desperation for power he has never been able to escape from.

“I’m sorry, Tom,” her voice softened, because a part of her, a small part, but still a part, pities him. He had never even drunk from his mother’s breast, after all, nor felt love from anyone. Respect, to him, truly is gained through fear. And people like them would never be able to feel successful as followers, he had just chosen the wrong path.

But this time it would be no different.

And so, his wand at her throat is knocked aside by her left arm, as she grabs his arm and twists him into the stone wall. His body collided with it with a loud thump, and she felt his magic flare from his pain.

“You bloody bitch!” He screams, because, of course, no one has ever defied Tom Riddle.

He is quick but she is quicker. She cast, “Colloshoo!” Hardly a curse, but dark magic takes time, takes concentration, takes intent. All of which she di not have to the extent he did. So, a stickfast hex does what is needed, attaching both his left arm and his shoes to the stone.

He growled, and cast, “Crucio!” his red curse flies through the air, like an arrow in the wind, but she has been expecting this one. She flicked it from her wand, and it hits the other side of the hall ten metres behind her. He looks shocked, as, of course, deflecting magic has never been taught in the Hogwarts curriculum and won’t be for around a century to come. It is specific for every spell after all and requires intimate knowledge of both the spell and its counter curse. But that does not matter now.

He looks furious, his face red with anger. As far as she knows, Tom Riddle has never shown this much emotion before.

But it only takes another movement of her wand, as she cast,” Ossio Dispersimus!” But she does not use the spell as intended. Rather than dismiss a broken bone from existence, to only grow it later from skelligrow, she dismissed the spine. His body fell, crippled, his left arm still stuck to the wall. He has a few minutes still, she knew. But his nervous system is gone, and he is no threat now. His magic is unusable, as it desperately tries to save him. But it’s impossible. She knows that.

He can’t speak, but she could see the questions in his eyes, “It’s for the best, Tom. You would’ve died, either way, I’m just speeding up the process. It was always inevitable but this way, it hurts no one but you and I.”

She settled down on her knees next to the crippled boy, a boy who was only seventeen and yet was far less innocent than her, a woman at least four times his age. She takes the chain around her neck and unfastens it, opening the small vial that had sat upon it. She pours the fine grains across his still-living body and his eyes showed a fire that his body could not reflect. He cannot struggle, but he would. For a second, her hand is pushed back as she tipped the vial, and she smiled, his magic truly was strong.

She cuts his chest, not with a slicing hex but rather with a small knife from her robe’s pocket and presses down to let the blood whelm. Her hand is soon red with it, and she drags the same hand, slightly reluctantly across her forehead. Such a gross, medieval tradition.

She stands up, her still bloody hand leaving a mark on the stone tiles, “I use this life force to bind myself to this time, to split this timeline into two. To separate from what was once to be and now is never to be! Tempus Discindo!” She feels his magic dance with her own, and then, it is suddenly gone, making the hallway feel cold, as if it there is a ‘hole’ in the magic of Hogwarts.

She quickly cleans herself with a “Scourgify” and makes it a hundred metres, to the nearest girl’s bathroom, to where she sits down and cries. She casts the silencing charm still whilst crying, not for what she has done, but rather for what it means for her.

Because although Tom Riddle is gone, fate will now be trying to push Hermione Granger into his place.