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The Diary

Chapter Text

 

Hermione knew it wasn't a normal book the moment she saw it.

The old, faded, and worn leather journal had mysteriously ended up in her belongings. It was likely a result of Malfoy colliding with her in the halls earlier that day, which had been an unnerving exchange in itself. He'd apologized, for one thing, and had even stopped to help organize their things without a single nasty remark.

Granted, his attitude towards her had changed considerably since that summer. Hermione had no idea why he was suddenly not terrorizing her. Even his father had been cordial in Flourish and Blotts before term, sneering at the Weasleys and Harry, but regarding her with little more than bored indifference.

It was curious, to say the least.

Despite her anxiety, she reached out and flipped the journal over. It looked like there was once a name pressed into the bottom. The gold letters were faded to the point where she could hardly read them, but she managed to make out a few letters — "T..…..i..le"

She frowned. The imprints of the letters were worn. She couldn't make any others out.

Judging by the condition of the journal, she assumed it had been treasured by its owner during its prime. That didn't explain why Draco Malfoy would've slipped it into her things, assuming he'd done so with intent.

Her gut told her he had.

Her gut also told her that she should take it to her head of house and be done with it, but instead she flipped it back over and opened it. All the pages were blank and pristine.

Her frown deepened.

Why would someone have a journal with their name imprinted on the back and never use it? If such an item were a gift and had gone unused, wouldn't they have put it somewhere safe, such as a bookshelf or a desk drawer? Their school trunk, even?

Hermione found a book in the library that was full of spells well above her year, but even after trying dozens of revealing charms, the journal remained the same. She researched potions and mixtures that might reveal charmed ink, only to find that they were nothing more than the charms she'd already tried in physical form.

The old journal found a new home hidden within her trunk. She still didn't trust it, didn't know why or how something that had clearly been used showed no signs of said use. But she didn't want to turn it in either. And if it was Malfoy's, well, he'd just have to ask her nicely if he wanted it back.


A/N: Guess who's back, back again... ;) Happy Tomione Day! There's some important info in the A/N on (the NEW) Part II.

Chapter Text


Hermione left the Halloween feast early. As far as Harry and Ron were concerned, she wasn't feeling well, and the two went to Nearly Headless Nick's party without her.

When she returned to Gryffindor Tower, the common room was blissfully empty. Still, she went up to her dorm instead of enjoying the open space and took the odd journal from her trunk. Once the curtains of her four-poster were drawn shut, just in case her roommates came back from the feast sooner than expected, she got out a quill and her favorite sapphire ink.

She flipped the journal open to the first page, inked her quill, and neatly penned the date.

31 October 2012

The ink vanished into the page before it dried and Hermione pressed her lips together as a chill rippled across her shoulders.

As she stared at the once again blank page, glaring at it as if willing it to reveal its secrets to her, dark emerald ink appeared where she'd written the date.

31 October 1962

Her frown deepened, but more green words appeared before she could think of something else to write on the page.

Tell me who you are, what you've charmed my journal with, and why, and I'll consider deducting a much smaller sum of housepoints than I'm currently of the mind to.

Hermione felt her brows draw together and hesitated before dipping her quill back into her blue ink. Several weeks ago, one of my classmates bumped into me and stuck this old journal into my things. I'm just as confused as you are.

Your name? Green Ink wrote. And am I truly meant to believe that?

She glared at the page. I'm not giving personal information to a source I cannot see or judge for myself. Especially not when they're being rude.

The next reply was written faster. Angrier. I'm. A. Prefect. Tell me who you are before I bring this to the attention of my head of house. Or perhaps I'll just go straight to Headmaster Dippet.

A sense of dread settled into Hermione's skin and she rubbed at her arms while she pondered her response, as if the action would make the uncomfortable sensation go away. This person had written the date after she did, only they'd written the wrong year.

Dippet hasn't been Headmaster for thirty-five years, she penned slowly.

The longer you play this foolish little game with me, the more housepoints I'll take when I find you.

She tried to wrack her brain for something, anything, that would prove her point. If, somehow, the journal she held was truly connected to its previous owner in the past, she needed a way to prove to this person that she wasn't a prankster.

If it's truly 1962 for you, which I highly doubt, then I can prove it's 2012 for me.

You must think you're awfully clever, don't you? Clearly you don't know who you're dealing with, but fine. I'll bite. Do enlighten me as to how you're going to convince me you're from the future.

"Oh, you awful, insufferable…" Hermione muttered under her breath. Of course she gets a magic diary from Malfoy and its connected to some prat in the past. If not him pretending to be some prat from the past.

Still, she wrote the little bit of trivia she'd heard in the common room earlier that week when Ron and Harry had lapsed into another Quidditch debate instead of doing their homework. Eunice Murray will die during the first Quidditch game for the Montrose Magpies in November.

It took a few moments for Green Ink to respond. That game is next week.

Then you'll know I'm not lying, she wrote, a triumphant smirk pulling at her lips.

I still expect you to tell me who you are.

Hermione rolled her eyes. I'm not going to give you my real name.

Give me something to call you then, person who is apparently from the future.

With a sigh, she chose the first alias that came to mind, Nyx.

The goddess of night? How romantic. Ares.

You could have at least picked something not Greek, she wrote, annoyed.

I'm not willing to put anymore effort into...whatever this is than necessary. The odds that you'll actually prove to be worth my time are slim at best. What house are you in?

She frowned at his abrupt change in subject. Gryffindor.

You don't sound like a Gryffindor.

"Oh for the love of…" Could everyone tell she'd begged the hat not to stick her where it initially wanted to? I wasn't comfortable with where the hat wanted to put me. It took my suggestion to be sorted elsewhere.

Ravenclaw?

Yes. The lie was familiar.

Well, Miss Nyx of Should-Be-Ravenclaw, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, as much as one can do so through a book, of course.

She didn't know what to make of the sudden shift in tone, nor the unexpected appearance of manners. It's been something, she wrote, but I don't know if I would call this a pleasure.

Give it time, Dove, who knows what we might learn.

Dove? She raised a brow at the moniker. A white bird —a nod to Ravenclaw, surely— representing light and purity instead of darkness like the pen name she'd chosen? She wondered if the ironic new nickname was just a coincidence or something Ares had come up with on the fly.

If the first, she found it funny. If the second, she found herself admiring his quick wit, even if he seemed to have a nasty temper.


They hardly communicated with one another at first, but if Ares wrote to her, the journal would hum with a silent sort of magic only Hermione was acutely aware of. She wasn't sure how it worked on his side, but she knew that the hum faded once she saw his message.

For the first time since Halloween, she decided to write him first.

Are you going home for the holiday?

What holiday?

Christmas, of course.

It's November – the twenty-third to be exact. Why are you worrying about Christmas when we haven't even taken end of term exams?

It became clear rather quickly that the passage of time was not consistent between them. Ares, who was taking Arithmancy and rather skilled at it, realized that time ratio between them appeared to be two to one. For every day that passed for him, two days passed for her.

It's unfortunate, really. We write one another rather steadily throughout the day for me, but you're often waiting for my replies, aren't you? he mused.

Sometimes. I don't mind. She's countered. And it doesn't seem that bad. There are times where we write back and forth steadily without a problem. Besides, it gives me time to study.

Salazar forbid you don't have time to get through the last half of the fourth year curriculum before the hols.

He was a prat even when he didn't think someone was pranking him through his diary, she learned. Though most of the time it seemed like he only made the effort to be awful because her reactions amused him. Still, he was more rational than Harry or Ron, which gave her a pleasant reprieve from their constant tomfoolery.

She loved the boys, but Ares was special. Different.

Are you going home then? For Christmas? he asked her.

Not this year. My parents are taking a trip to France. I wanted to stay with my friends.

Perfect. I have an idea. We might be able to see each other, but it's complicated magic - far above that of a second year.

She clenched her teeth, offended, which was probably his goal. When do we start?

Chapter Text

Harry chose to stay behind as well, mainly, Hermione thought, so she wouldn't be alone. He also received explicit instructions to rest up during the break and had gotten his own promise of biscuits.

Hermione didn't plan to 'rest up'. Ares had told her to get a specific book, a book she knew to be in the Restricted Section. She recognized a challenge when she saw one. Thankfully, Harry didn't seem all that interested in why she wanted to borrow his cloak, likely assuming she was just going to spend a late night in the library. His assumptions would be partially correct, at least.


Her next task was the room. Ares told her how to get to it and how to use it. She passed the wall three times. A door appeared for her on her first try. Ares was impressed.

Well, aren't you a powerful little thing? he'd written. Next the salt circle. Then the spell. Hopefully the room is as clever as it seems and we only need to do this once or twice before it does it for us.

He still wouldn't quite tell her what 'it' was, but she made her salt circle and cast the charm. He had to draw the rune she needed to make in the center of the circle several times before she got it right. Then she set the journal down, pages open, atop the salt rune. Ares realized she was hesitating with the witchlight.

It won't burn, he promised. Magic is about intent. Your witchlight won't burn the diary unless you will it to.

It didn't burn, but the second part of the spell was hard. She struggled for twenty minutes before she got annoyed.

Am I doing something wrong? she asked him.

No, Dove. Keep trying. You nearly had it a moment ago. Be patient, it hasn't even been ten minutes.

Reminding her of the time difference helped her refocus. Her failure was wasting more of her time than his.

She closed her eyes and tried again. Vinculo iungantur…vinculo iungantur…

"Oh, you're a treat, little Dove," he said with a low chuckle. "Well done."

She jumped, wide eyes springing open and landing on the fifth year boy a meter or so in front of her, sat exactly as she was within his own salt circle. His journal, a pristine version of hers, was encased in its own ball of blue flames. The azure glow made his eyes —eyes she was certain were already blue under the witchlight— glow like sapphires and illuminated the rest of his smirking face.

His very pretty smirking face.

Very, very pretty.

Prettier than Lockhart's, even.

"Hello," she murmured shyly.

The pretty smirk widened and his eyes glinted like the silver and emerald prefect badge on his robes.

"Hello, Dove."

Chapter Text

 

Tom and Nyx met in the Room of Requirement as often as their odd time difference would allow. The first meeting, he tested her knowledge of the second year curriculum. The next, third year. Then fourth.

"What have you done, checked out the textbooks in each subject for every year and read through them?" he asked when she managed the briefest silvery wisp of a patronus.

"Yes," she answered defensively, glaring at him.

His dark blue eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "The hat wanted you in Ravenclaw?"

She nodded automatically. Reflexively .

Liar , he thought. "And yet you aren't broadcasting the true depth of your knowledge in order to get into more challenging classes?" he asked.

"No," she answered, bitterly. He wondered why her intellect was such a sore spot. "I get plenty made fun of for having top marks from my own age group."

Ah. Clever, but a bit timid. Defensive.

"The older students would find you adorable and amusing,” he goaded. “They'd protect you."

"Until I started getting higher marks than them too," she muttered.

He smirked at her response and noticed that it made her uncomfortable. " Ravenclaw ?" he asked again, his voice dripping with disbelief. She couldn’t be farther from one of the batty birds. Not that he expected her Gryffindor housemates to pick up on such a thing.

Nyx crossed her arms over her chest with stubborn, slightly defiant set to her shoulders.

Willful little thing. "Cast it again," he ordered.

"You cast it," she snapped.

One of his brows twitched upward. Hit a nerve, did I? "Careful, Dove," he said, letting his teasing smirk level into something decidedly less playful.

He watched her tremble as a chill ran down her spine.

"I like you,” he said. “Don't ruin it."

"Prat," she mumbled.

Tom rolled his eyes. "Cast it again."

On night four, which was just past the halfway point of the holiday break for Nyx , Tom grew concerned with her progress.

"Again."

She sighed, but did as she was told. A pathetic strand of silver sprang from her wand, the same wand wielded by the same tiny witch whose natural magical prowess was akin to his own, before it faded and died.

"Pick a different memory," he said

"I don't have any happier ones!" she shouted, her exasperation wrapped around her like an aura.

He’d have to break her of such dangerous Gryffindor-isms, but that was a lesson for another day. For the time being, he merely raised an eyebrow in warning and stared at her until she looked away, chastised. She was upset with herself, he knew, and thus he overlooked her slip. She’d been blessed with strong instincts, though he wasn’t sure which of them benefited from that more. He hadn’t needed to break her to make her comply. She knew who was in control without him ever having to show her.

"Again," he said.

After six more pathetic attempts, Nyx threw her wand across the room in a fit of anger. Tom flicked his and cast a silent levitation spell so hers wouldn’t break before he eyed the teary, too clever second year before him.

"There has to be something," he said smoothly. He knew positive means of encouragement weren’t his forte, but her problem stemmed from confidence, not competence. The crucios that would correct Abraxas Malfoy or Flynn Avery wouldn’t motivate her, assuming she didn’t run from him. Seeing as she’d run from her proper house, he could only assume her self-preservation knew few bounds.

"A first year has enough happy memories for the charm, but lacks the strength and skill to cast it," he told her instead. “Surely there’s something pleasant enough in your life to fuel your patronus.”

She glared at her feet, fists shaking, jaw clenched, and silent.

Tom resisted the urge to sigh. " Nyx. Look at me."

Her eyes flicked up without hesitation.

She was such a good listener, especially compared to most people he knew. It was so difficult to find the right balance of curiosity, competence, and compliance to fill his social circle with. He could teach her many things, as long as he could keep her loyalties in check, of course.

Tom quickly cast a silent, gentle legilimens. If she couldn’t pick apart her own mind to cast a patronus, he’d do it for her.

He peeled through the intertwining layers of her thoughts, passing from one memory of muggle bullies to another, skimming through memories of the worthless assurances her muggle parents had tried to offer her. The other children were just jealous. Ignore them and they’ll go away.

Tom knew from experience that they would do no such thing, and Nyx —Hermione— had learned the same hard lesson he’d had to learn as well.

He took care combing through the organized areas she filed her troubles into. Frustration here. Sadness there. Disappointment here. Contentment there. Eventually he stumbled across her brighter memories. There was hope surrounding the memory of the day she received her Hogwarts letter, and it made the memory glow bright, white gold. She’d thought the letter would be a new chance. A new start. A new school full of people that were, supposedly, just as odd as she was, a school full of people that hopefully wouldn’t find as many faults with her as her muggle classmates had.

They did, of course. She was still too clever, too eager, too focused on pleasing the adults, too bored by the things other children her age enjoyed.

A school’s a school, Dove , he thought to himself.

Tom skimmed a bit more, trying to find a brighter memory, one that wasn’t tinged with the grey of disappointment, hopelessness, and despair. He nearly missed the tiny light buried amongst her more recent memories. It was wrapped in suspicion and worry, making the glow of it faint, but if those layers were peeled away, it would be plenty pure enough for a patronus.

When he dipped into the memory, the idea , he saw himself through her eyes: An intellectual better, someone who wasn’t using her to boost their essay grades or constantly teasing her about her intelligence with more truth behind their jokes than anyone chose to acknowledge. She wanted to consider him a friend , but had convinced herself that he only saw her as a tool.

She wasn’t wrong with that assessment, but her raw magical power wasn’t the only thing that kept his attention. He’d grown oddly protective of the little fuzz ball since their first night in the Room of Requirement. He made a mental note to teach her a few hair care charms at some point in the future.

With a thoughtful hum, he pulled back from her mind, but didn’t fully withdraw. He wanted to keep an eye on how she processed her next task. She was still angrily staring into space when he refocused on the room.

"Try again, Dove," he said, flicking his wand so hers floated back into her hand. "Even if you think it's a false hope or desire, any idea can be strong enough to form a patronus. The spell isn’t explicitly tied to memories."

Her defeated expression as she reclaimed her wand matched her memory of the night they first met in the Room —when she’d struggled with the spell— and her jaw set defiantly as she focused. The idea of them being friends moved to the forefront of her thoughts and morphed into a daydream where she’d already successfully cast a patronus. He was behind her, smirking but proud, and muttering a quiet ‘Well done, Dove.’

A shimmering Royal Python burst from the tip of her wand before it began to writhe and dance in the air around them. Together they watched it circle first her, then him, before it vanished in a wisp of silver fog. Nyx could hardly suppress her excitement and relief, and Tom didn’t bother hiding his genuinely proud smile.

"Well done, Dove," he said gently.

Before he cast a finite, he watched the idea she used for her patronus morph into a memory. The only notable differences between the two that he saw were the shape of her patronus and the sincerity in his expression.

Chapter Text

 

Nyx was pensive. Or worried, if the abuse her somewhat unfortunate teeth were delivering to her lower lip was anything to go by. Tom waited in silence. She’d talk without his prompting if he let her stew long enough.

"People are acting funny this year," she said a few moments later. He noted that she’d stayed hidden behind the massive tome she was pouring over.

"And this concerns you, how?" he asked, dotting an 'i' on his essay with unnecessary care. It was nearly finished, thankfully. Professor Merrythought was giving them some ridiculously pointless Defense theory assignments this term. He’d grown bored of them by the time Nyx had come around.

"Funny towards me," she clarified.

Tom suppressed a sigh, choosing to remain silent until she got on with whatever point she was hesitating to make.

"You don't think they know I wasn't sorted correctly, do you?" she muttered.

He blew on his parchment to help an unintentionally heavy spot of ink dry. "Ravenclaws treating you oddly?" he baited. "They're clever, but I wouldn't give them that much credit, Dove."

A glance to his left showed him that Nyx was suddenly very interested in the same paragraph she'd been staring at since she first spoke up.

"Or…” he said slowly, “are you trying to tell me that another house has taken notice that perhaps you don't belong where you are? Because if that's the case, then I'm quite impressed with school children of the future. Their predecessors' idiocy must not have been bosom-fed to them after all."

Tom pretended not to notice her uncomfortable shift beside him.

"I suppose," she said. If misery hadn’t been dripping from the words, the cloud of it set around her shoulders would’ve given her away.

Tom was annoyed at himself for being so concerned with one thirteen year old. Surely she knew that, as a muggleborn, she wouldn’t have lasted one night where she belonged.

"They'd have eaten you alive," he said as he cast a proper drying spell over his essay and cast another spell to warm his sealing wax.

"The Ravenclaws?" she asked.

He finished sealing his essay without a word, staring at her until she hid behind her book again.


 

"So this…Snape person," he said. "Awfully disagreeable sort of fellow, especially last year. But this year he treats you better and it's an issue?"

Nyx frowned at him and she unsuccessfully pushed a mass of curls out of her face. He resisted the urge to grab his wand, certain she'd get righteous and offended if he spelled her hair into submission for her. Eventually he'd have her complacent enough, taught well enough, that her hair would always be tamed by the will of one of their wands. It’d probably look nicer if nothing else.

She shrugged her shoulders. "He ignores me for the most part and still treats my housemates like flobberworm spawn," she explained. "But I'm no different than I was last year. He’s just suddenly stopped being as nasty."

"I'm not following."

She huffed in frustration. "Nevermind."

"Certainly there must be more to it that I'm not understanding," he added conversationally, watching poorly concealed panic flicker through her irises.

He wanted to roll his eyes at her. Did she really think he didn’t know?

Out of curiosity, he cast a silent legilimens. Her sorting would be on her mind, he was certain, making the memory easy to find. Surely she’d been a hatstall.

"Difficult…Very Difficult. Such a well-organized mind, powerful too…yes…and determined to excel in whatever crosses your path…"

"Not really," she said quickly. Tom had nearly forgotten that he’d baited her again. Her little lie would have passed by anyone else; her sorting was something she’d lied about often enough to pull off naturally. "I suppose I'm over thinking it,” she said, but the excuse was weak.

"…brave, yes, and loyal too…but so driven…Salazar himself would be impressed..."

Please, don't put me in Slytherin…Please. I’m muggleborn.

"You don't really believe that," Tom said.

"You would change everything they know…they would come to make you their own…"

Not Slytherin. Anywhere but Slytherin, please.

"Yes I do."

"You're hardly aligned to be in any of the other houses, my dear…"

Please…

"Then I suppose it ought to be...GRYFFINDOR!"

His lips curled into a smirk as he withdrew from her mind. Hiding her in Gryffindor because she was brave enough to willingly to face the strain of being genuinely missorted over a much more serious threat. It was a form of bravery, he supposed. She’d picked the smarter battle and she knew that. She’d picked the route that protected herself. It seemed the old rag had trouble telling the difference between nerve and self preservation.

"No you don't, Dove."


 

"Only Dumbledore would hide a valuable stone in a school full of children," Tom snapped when Nyx had finished telling him about the  adventure  she and her friends had faced during their first year. "What was the fool trying to accomplish?"

Nyx Hermione,  he tried to remind himself — shrugged.

"Apparently he was rejected by some political group and was trying to prove his worth?" she told him. "'The Order of' something. They're a very private association, according to the article the Prophet ran after Quirrell was arrested. Forward thinkers. Ran by powerful people. They’ve started a bunch of philanthropic campaigns over the years."

Tom filed the name away for future use. He intended to live a very long life, meaning there was absolutely no reason he wouldn't survive until her time. And eventually their timelines would overlap. In the future he would have a soldier within Hogwarts' walls. A snake pretending to be a raven wearing a lion's skin.

"I'd like to go into politics," he said, “become Minister of Magic, maybe."

Her nose wrinkled. "I'd like to make a difference, I think, and do something important, but I doubt I'd like playing tedious political games with people."

"You could be an unorthodox society wife," he teased, picturing the image – an older version of her with tamed hair, a dangerous smile, and a lack of respect for social conformity.

In fifty years he'd find her again. In fifty years he'd help her marry some acceptably high standing schmuck who found her to be so precious and clever that she had the freedom do whatever suited her fancy. Someone with enough backbone and smarts to keep up with her, but not enough to try and change where Tom saw her fitting into his plans.

"I certainly won't be conforming to such primeval, patriarchal nonsense," she muttered. "I'll build success however I please, thanks."

Tom chuckled. " Ravenclaw ."

Her lips twitched into a hesitant smile.

Chapter Text

 

Happy Christmas. The words bled onto the page in Nyx's familiar hand as Tom laid on his four-poster.

Thank you, Dove, he wrote back. And how is your February afternoon treating you?

As well as can be expected, I suppose. Malfoy caused Ronald to curse himself this morning. He kept the spell from ricocheting onto me though.

Did he now? Tom eyed his left curtain, though it was drawn, and pondered the Malfoy in the next bed over. How kind of him.

I don't understand why he seems to be looking out for me.

Tom could only assume that Abraxas would remain loyal to him. Which meant his grandson would be a viable ally for Hermione. Give the boy a chance. You could use some of your own kind on your side.

That would be a bit obvious, don't you think?

He snorted softly. To another Slytherin maybe. Either way, do you really care?


Draco's grandfather knows you.

Tom smirked in triumph. So his name is Draco now?

You said to give him a chance. We study in the library some nights.

I see. He spoke to you about Abraxas then?

I assume that's who he meant.

Brax is a prick, but an influential and, apparently, a more loyal that I had assumed prick. I would say the same goes for his grandson.

I'm sure he's properly terrified into submission.

Exposure to one of her own was making her cheeky. He didn't mind. As he should be.

You're mental, Ares.

He narrowed his eyes at the pseudonym. It was getting old. Plus he'd nearly slipped and called her by her actual name more than once. They knew one another well enough by now, surely.

Tom, he wrote before he changed his mind.

What?

My name, Dove. It's Tom. Tom Riddle.

He tapped his fingers impatiently against the leather of his diary while he waited for her response.

Hermione Granger. eventually appeared in smooth blue cursive and he smiled.


She was in classes according to his calculations. A quick glance at his copy of her timetable told him she'd just entered a double potions period with her seemingly bipolar dungeon bat of a professor. Her should-be head of house.

Tom had gotten a few new journals in his last Hogsmeade trip. None of them had his name printed on the back like his diary did, but that was hardly a concern. He charmed each one so that only he could read their contents and added 'Snape' to the dark blue journal where he kept a list of things and people to look out for in the future.

He pondered Abraxas and Draco Malfoy, Hermione's secret friend. She truly did need to be resorted, but seemed set upon keeping up the façade of her housing. Tom already had the loyalties of the current scion to the House of Malfoy, which he could use to his advantage when time caught up with itself. If he cultivated this Severus fellow as well, he could build Hermione a foundation of people in Slytherin so her transition into 'enemy territory' would be less jarring. She couldn't stay in Gryffindor forever. She'd go mad eventually.

Still, if he played within the bulk of societies rules he wouldn't be able to become the all-powerful immortal sorcerer he so desired to be. He wanted to crush that nosy bastard Dumbledore and deny him his chances of happiness, just as Tom had been denied his at every turn where the dotty Transfiguration professor was concerned.

Blue ink began to bleed onto the pages of his diary again, and Tom smiled to himself before he spelled the message so the words wouldn't fade until he felt like acknowledging them.

Dumbledore couldn't take her from him, at least.

Hermione was the eldest in her year with her September birthday. She would be seventeen at the dawn of her sixth year, and eighteen at the dawn of her seventh. If his calculations were correct, then he would be finishing his seventh year during the beginning of the second term of hers. At the same time in her timeline, he would have recently turned seventy.

He frowned. Seventy was much too old to be in cohorts with an eighteen-year-old version of Hermione, especially if times continued to move in the progressive fashion they were now. But if Tom could stop his body from aging, then those years would be insignificant.

Assuming his predictions in Divination this week had meant what he interpreted them too, the currently thirteen-year-old witch in question would grow to be his equal, his better in some ways, even.

Dumbledore seemed to think Tom was a monster in every sense of the word. Whether the elements of truth in that observation rendered Tom truly incapable of caring for others, Tom couldn't say. Most people bored him too quickly to even consider giving a damn about them. But he was fretting over Dove's future without even realizing she'd become something of a priority in his mind. She was someone worth expending mental energy on. He was already guessing if the note waiting for him was another report on the sudden change in behavior expressed by her Potion's professor, or maybe he was back to tormenting the clever little witch.

Tom couldn't be entirely incapable of some degree of affection, given the circumstances. Which would make Dumbledore, unsurprisingly, wrong about him.

He might not give the time of day to whatever worthless sods crossed his path, but he could find the company of a frizzy-haired second year enjoyable. And she already considered him a mentor of sorts, a role he wasn't shying away from. She was a quick study. It entertained him to teach her.

Tom shook his head to clear it, trying to prevent his thoughts from spiraling any further than they already had. Remembering his diary and the note waiting for him there, he finally decided to flip it open.

Professor Snape asked me to stay after class…

He frowned at the words. Time moved so quickly for her, at least from his perspective. He was surprised her double period was already over.

He was acting strange, or at least I thought so, perhaps he's always civil with the Slytherins…

Snape knew the truth, then, Tom decided. Which meant he'd successfully built her foundation in the future, didn't it?

He… she stopped writing for a moment, presumably to organize her thoughts. He told me that I've been chosen to be sponsored by the head of the board of governors. Sponsored, Tom! My books, robes, any additional supplies, paid for in full! I'll even receive a monthly allowance next year for trips to Hogsmeade! And additional tutoring if my end of terms are as impressive as last years!

He picked up his quill while gears turned in his mind. He was very pleased for his little Dove, and proud of her for being recognized for her achievements, but suspicion was making the back of his neck itch.

Who's head of the board? he asked.

She didn't reply for several minutes. I'm not sure…

Tom's frown returned.

Snape said he knew about my sorting though…told me to come to him if I ever decided I wanted to switch houses...

Propping himself up on his free elbow, Tom used the hand he was leaning against to rub at the prickling sensation on his neck. After a moment he gave up on the futile effort and penned his reply. I wouldn't fret, my Dove. Just keep your wits sharp and eyes open.

Like a Slytherin, she wrote.

He smirked. A quick study, as always. Precisely.

Chapter Text

 

With exams steadily approaching, and her friendship with Ron strained after an idiotic fight a few days prior, Hermione was more than inclined to spend her time away from Gryffindor Tower. She would get far more studying done with a proper partner than she would trying to get Harry and Ron to start preparing for the end of term anyway.

Her partner in question was at a table in one of the farthest corners of the library, encased by looming bookshelves. The nook he’d settled in was secluded enough to only have two narrow points of entry. Hermione considered it a wonder that anyone had ever found the spot at all. She certainly hadn’t —yet, at least— and doubted she ever would have if he hadn’t provided her a quickly doodled map along with the note to meet him after dinner.

She slipped into the surprisingly spacious study area. “Happy Tuesday,” Draco said without glancing up from his book.

“Afternoon, Draco,” Hermione said as she set her books down and sat across from him.

He glanced up and studied her with eyes that were caught somewhere between the palest of icy blues and most silver of greys. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he began, “but you look exhausted.”

She tried to muster up a convincing smile and started to assure him that she was fine when one of his pale brows ticked upwards. He saw right through it.

“Weasley?” he guessed.

She sighed and nodded reluctantly, trying to busy herself by flipping open the books she needed.

Draco’s expression turned sour. “Saint Potter’s taken Weasel’s side this time, has he?” he asked.

“No,” Hermione said. “It isn’t like that. He’s just…”

“Immature? An idiot? Can’t see past the end of his own freckled nose?” Draco offered. “Thinks crimson and gold makes you god-like? Thinks anything silver and emerald is evil?”

She sighed again and Draco set his irritation on her behalf aside for a few moments. He reached out to take her nearest hand and returned his attention to his textbook.

“May I write you over the summer?” he asked when she didn’t pull away.

Her fingers gently squeezed his as she reveled in the fact that Draco Malfoy, of all people, was someone she now considered a friend. “You may.”

He squeezed her hand in return and the two fell into a companionable silence.


 

GILDEROY LOCKHART: PRODIGAL HEART THROB OR FRAUD?

By Rita Skeeter

During a routine observational sit-in of several upper year classes, one Hogwarts Board Governor discovered that Gilderoy Lockhart, Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was an “alarmingly incompetent instructor”. The Board of Governors graciously agreed to deliver an official statement to us here at the Prophet , which we are honored to present to the public today.

While the report detailing the “gross educational deficiencies” observed in Professor Lockhart’s classroom is classified information, Deputy Head of the Board, Abraxas Malfoy, assured us here at the Prophet that the Board has already put together an assessment and remediation plan for the 5th through 7th year students, who were found to be sorely under prepared for their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s respectively.

Governor Malfoy explained that all current Hogwarts students would take an assessment to determine the severity of their academic deficiencies. Summer workshops are currently being set up for all students in need of remedial study. As a result of these unfortunate circumstances, the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s have been postponed until later this summer or until the remedial workshops have had a chance to fill in the gaps left by Professor Lockhart.

The assessment screenings are set to take place before term ends on June 30th, at which time the course of action for the younger students will be plotted and determined. As of now, the lower year students who pass these assessments will be allowed a chance to take their end of term Defense exams as originally scheduled. Those who do not will be fit into the Board’s summer remediation program. And though the head of the board was unavailable for comment, Governor Malfoy was quick to assure us that all students who do not meet their Defense requirements for graduation or their next year of schooling will be tended to, regardless of the circumstances.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has opened an official investigation on Lockhart in light of these events. There are also rumors of an anonymous tip being sent to the DMLE about the authenticity of Lockhart’s reputation and career.

According to several of the lower ranking members of the Hogwarts board of governors, traditional hiring procedures were not followed with Lockhart’s hiring. No known action has been taken against Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Order of Merlin, First Class; Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards; and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot) at this time, but board investigations are rumored to be ongoing.

To learn about more secrets uncovered about Lockhart by the DMLE, see page 9.

Hermione skimmed the Prophet over Harry’s shoulder and shook her head. Lockhart turning out to be a complete fraud didn’t bother her as much as Harry or Ron thought it might. She’d stopped caring about him months ago.

She picked at her breakfast while the owls continued their rounds and jumped when a thick envelope landed in front of her. A sleek black owl landed in the middle of the table, managing to avoid the dishes with more grace than Hermione had expected it to have. She offered it a half slice of toast, then shrieked when it flew to her shoulder, and let out an exasperated laugh when it rubbed its head against her cheek before taking off with its toast.

She picked up the letter, noting its weight before inspecting the wax seal pressed into the back. The symbol was familiar —a Caduceus set into silver wax— but she didn’t know who it belonged to and the only thing written on the envelope was her name.

"Wot'cha go' 'ere, 'Mione?" Ron asked around a mouthful of food.

Her lips twitched in distaste. “Honestly, Ronald, must you talk with your mouth full?”

Ron only rolled his eyes at her and continued to eat when it became clear she wasn’t going to engage with him until he used his table manners.

“Who’s it from?” asked Harry from his spot beside her. He, she noticed, had made a point to swallow before speaking.

Hermione shrugged. “I dunno,” she said as she carefully broke the seal.

The stationery inside was crisp and thick, with a delicate border of silver laurels decorating the edges. The silver glinted against the marble white card stock. Despite its sturdiness, Hermione was careful as she removed the letter. Glistening dark green ink stood out against the stationery and as she admired the contrast, she recognized the handwriting.

Chapter Text

Dear Miss Granger,

Due to your Defense professor's shortcomings being brought to light, I've taken to discussing the remainder of your years education with your remaining professors. Some of your classmates will begin sitting their exams at the start of June, an opportunity you will likely be granted upon taking your Board Proficiency Assessment later this week.

However, if you're agreeable, I would prefer you sit your exams over the summer. I'd like the opportunity to evaluate your current educational standings alongside a professor who speaks most highly of you to determine what ways, if any, the lackluster Professor Lockhart has negatively impacted your academic career.

But I leave the choice to you. If you're content with the terms of my request, simply do not sit your exams with your classmates in June, regardless of your assessment results, and notify Professor Snape of your decision. He's familiar with my schedule and can better coordinate a time for us to meet before term ends.

If, however, your heart is set on taking your exams in June, then I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your summer holiday.

Yours,

Tom M. Riddle Jr.

Lord of the House of Gaunt

Head of the Order of Hermes

Head Chair of the Hogwarts Board of Governors

Hermione read the letter twice before taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "It's from my sponsor," she told Harry. "He wants me to postpone all of my exams until summer."

Harry frowned. "All of them? Haven't you been studying ahead?"

She nodded. She'd also been studying ahead of their year in the Room of Requirement with Tom, but Harry didn't know that. She'd considered telling him over the summer.

"I suppose he's just taking extra precautions, making sure I didn't miss anything in first year, possibly. Or he's worried about my progress in other subjects. I don't mind, though," she said.

Hermione sat the letter beside her plate and resumed her breakfast, but found her eyes were constantly drawn back to the signature. She glanced towards the staff table, wondering when she'd be able to inform Professor Snape of her decision, and found his eyes already trained on her. When his expression turned inquiring, she gave him a small nod.

He gave her a barely noticeable nod in return before switching his attention back to the Slytherin table.


When Harry and Ron returned from their first full day of exams, Hermione was curled up in an armchair with a glamoured fifth year textbook and it was clear that she had been for most of the day.

"So it's true," Ron said hotly, "you get to wait until summer to do your exams?"

Hermione finished the paragraph she was on and turned the page before responding. "I'm choosing to give up part of my summer to take my exams at the request of my sponsor," she said, using a falsely patient tone. "If that's what you meant."

Her comment was met with silence. When she looked away from her book, Ronald was giving her a blank stare and Harry was shaking his head in exasperation.

Hermione felt her blood ignite. He'd asked her why Professor Snape had kept her after class the day she found out about the sponsorship. She'd discussed it with Harry while the two played wizard's chess. She'd opened the letter from her sponsor in front of him and discussed it with Harry over breakfast hardly a fortnight prior.

But before her irritation could present itself verbally, Harry chimed in. "The head of the board is sponsoring her academic career. Remember the night I went to the library with her to help her research it? You didn't want to go." Harry sighed when Ron only showed the slightest indication that he remembered. "Anyway," he continued, "it hasn't been done for ages, but it'll be really helpful when we graduate if she tries for an apprenticeship or something."

Ron's expression twisted into poorly concealed disgust. "Bloody hell, someone pays her to be a swot now?"

"I don't get paid anything," Hermione snapped. "My parents just don't have to pay for my books anymore. Traditionally sponsors also provide monthly or quarterly allowances to their sponsee, but I haven't met my sponsor yet, so I don't know all the details of my particular situation."

"Good for you then," Ron muttered under his breath.

She slammed her book shut loud enough to make Ron jump and then flush with embarrassment.

"Speaking of meeting my sponsor," she said conversationally, as if she wasn't one word away from hexing Ronald in the middle of the common room, "I have to go. I'm Flooing to London or somewhere to meet him." Turning to Harry, she offered him a weak smile as she packed her things into her bag. "Please don't wait up or anything. I'm not sure when I'll be back. Might be late."

"Have fun, 'Mione," Harry called as she made her way through the portrait hole.

She was already gone when Ron muttered something unkind about the situation and earned an elbow to the ribs from Harry.


Hermione made her way down to the dungeons and knocked thrice on the Potion Master's classroom door. She didn't hear Professor Snape approach on the other side and jumped when the door opened.

"Miss Granger," he greeted evenly, brow raised.

She muttered a quick 'Good evening, Professor' as she slipped past him into the room. He led her to his office and grabbed a pouch of Floo powder from one of his desk drawers.

"I trust you came with everything you need?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

He nodded and poured her a measure of Floo powder when she held out her hand. "We'll be traveling to Proserpine Park, Miss Granger," he said.

Once she'd repeated the name aloud three times to verify that she had the pronunciation correctly, she stepped through the Floo and into a large, ornately decorated drawing room.

Professor Snape stepped through a moment later and cast a quick charm to rid them both of soot before motioning for her to follow him out into the hall. Try as she might have to keep her sense of direction, the myriad of hallways and corners they wound through had her confused immediately. Instead, she tried to admire the decor without losing track of her guide.

She almost didn't notice when Professor Snape stopped in front of her. The door he'd taken her to was at the end of the hall they were currently in and seemed nondescript, or so she thought. Still, the professor knocked twice and listened for a cue she didn't hear before opening the door and stepping through.

Suddenly nervous, Hermione stuck a hand into her satchel. Her fingers found her journal, Tom's journal, and she held it tightly as she followed Professor Snape into yet another richly decorated drawing room.

Chapter Text

He’d forgotten how little she was in the beginning.

Her untamed curls filled him with a bittersweet sort of nostalgia. She was shorter. Her posture was all wrong. Timid, hesitant. The hand she’d slipped into the pocket of her satchel was stiff. She was clutching his diary, their diary, like a lifeline.

I was bloody petrified the first time I met older you, you know.

He could see it on her face, a mixture of anxiety, fear, and just a bit of hope. Hope that his presence meant they’d still be friends.

Friends .

It was always too simple of a phrase to describe them, but Tom knew his younger self hadn’t figured that out yet, and neither had Hermione.

Little Hermione. Hermione the second year. Hermione the Gryffindor. Hermione the quick study.

The Hermione he thought he could teach anything.

The Hermione he would teach everything he knew.

The only thing that hadn’t changed were her eyes. They seemed wider to him, in part because of the emotions running rampant behind them as she tried to get her bearings with their situation, but also because of the innocence that lurked in them.

She was Hermione, but she’d yet to grow into his Hermione. Still…he’d missed her, even if she was his astute little ball of frizz again. She’d become his Hermione in time.

“Hello, Dove,” he said. He kept his expression neutral, but kind. She was nervous. She was confused. He didn’t want to overwhelm her.

She swallowed and shuffled nervously before him. “You know I’m not behind in Defense,” she said, her voice quiet.

She even sounded smaller. The realization amused him. “I do,” he said obligingly. They both knew he’d started teaching her fifth year material recently.

He watched her thoughts turn and tried not to chuckle. If memory served, his younger self had either written her a note, was currently writing it, or at the very least would write her before Tom sent her back to school. She was caught in the middle between them. He wished he could prepare her for the strain of that burden. He wished he could tell her not to worry so much, not to be so afraid of her growing attachment to his younger self.

Wished he could tell her that she was just as important to him as he was to her.

Before the silence could stretch for too long, he said, “I’d nearly forgotten how small you were in your second year. You grew so much, so quickly, that I could hardly remember how you looked before your sixth year.”

Those wide brown eyes blinked up at him as she realized just how drastic the time difference between her and his younger self would turn out to be.

The next five years for her would only be two and a half years for the boy she knew. Tom remembered how it felt like time had flown during his last few years at Hogwarts. This time, he’d live through the crawl. Knowing what would be waiting for him in five years was the only thing that made that fact bearable.

He watched Hermione’s thoughts spiral behind her eyes before rolling his own. “Relax,” he said. “Do you think I’d seek you out if our friendship hadn’t remained anything but strong?”

Certainly that wouldn’t give too much away? Knowing they’d be companions throughout her school years shouldn’t be a surprise to her.

He saw her expression darken for a moment and had to hide his own negative reaction.

Had the spiral truly started this early? Did she already think he’d drop her like hot coals if she made a mistake?

Silly girl , he thought, trying not to smile at the absurdity of their situation. You couldn’t get rid of me even if you tried.

“You haven’t eaten, Dove,” he said, gesturing towards the door on the right side of the room and gestured for her to walk with him. “Come. Humor me.”

She followed, obedient little thing that she was, and Severus trailed behind them. Tom’s labyrinth of a home was a maze to most people, but he knew the halls well.

Once they’d reached one of the smaller dining rooms, he saw to her being seated beside him, across from Severus, and gave a small nod towards the kitchen-hand he saw hovering by the far entryway.

Soon, they each had a glass of ice water, and their dinner was being served. When Tom was certain everything was to the correct standards, he sat back and regarded this unnervingly young version of his first and only friend.

“Refresh my memory, Dove,” he said. “How has your year been? I remember a fair bit, but I’ve been immersed in this Lockhart nonsense for weeks. I’m certain I’ve forgotten details.”

She hesitated at first, but gave him a brief summary of everything that had happened since Draco had slipped her his —their— diary.

He was glad to learn that her secret friendship with Abraxas’s grandson was progressing smoothly. She reminded him how far he’d taught her during their private tutoring nights in the Room of Requirement. Something bitter and uncomfortable stirred in his chest when she admitted how out of place she’d started to feel. She had Harry, but the Weasley brat was a problem Tom would have to wait for history —or the future, he supposed— to resolve on its own.

He was glad to learn that Harry’s loyalty was strengthening in her direction as it should be. He was less glad to learn just how thoroughly Weasley had started to get under her skin.

“I want to tell Harry about my sorting,” she admitted over dessert. “But I don’t think I can. Besides, he was friends with Ronald first. I only became part of their group after the troll incident during first year…”

Tom shared a brief glance with Severus, who was hiding his amusement behind a drink of water.

“You never know, Dove,” Tom said, trying to suppress a smile. “You may not be the only current Hogwarts student that chose one house over another.”

She glanced up at him, her eyes narrowing suspiciously. The expression was so strikingly familiar, so her , that it made his chest ache.

His Hermione was in there. She just needed time.

He could almost hear her calling him a prat and smirked. In a few months, maybe in a year, she’d start throwing those little jabs at him aloud without hesitation. All she needed was time.

And all he needed was patience.


Harry was dozing in Hermione’s favorite armchair when she returned to the common room. He perked up a bit when he realized it was her and smiled lazily.

“Hullo, ‘Mione,” he said.

She smiled back. “You should be in bed.”

Harry shrugged and shifted to one side so she could share the chair with him. Hermione set her bag at their feet and accepted his unspoken invitation gladly.

“Is your sponsor a nice bloke?” he asked once she was comfortable.

“Yeah,” she said as she laid her head on his shoulder. “Intelligent. Charming. Interesting all around really.”

“Good, I’m glad.”

They lapsed into a comfortable silence that was only broken by the pops and crackles of the fireplace. Hermione had started to doze off when Harry spoke up.

“Is there anything odd in Hogwarts: A History about the sorting hat?” he asked.

She frowned. Tom’s words from dinner were starting to make her brain itch. “Not really,” she answered. “The hat’s known to factor in personal reference, I think, but there’s not much documented about it. I think people just assume that it’s charmed to sort students properly.” She hesitated for a moment before asking him why he wanted to know.

Harry sighed. “I just got to thinking and wondered if urging the hat to choose a different house would mean you’ve been ‘missorted’.”

She tilted her head to glance up at him, but found Harry was frowning towards the fire. “Did it want to put you somewhere aside from Gryffindor?” she asked him. She’d already deduced that was the case, but wanted to hear him say it before she got her hopes up.

“Sort of,” he said, his cheeks reddening slightly in the firelight. “I didn’t feel like I belonged there, so I asked it to put me anywhere else.”

“And it chose Gryffindor,” she said.

“Yeah.”

She took a deep breath. “I asked it to put me somewhere else too,” she admitted.

Harry’s gaze shifted from the fire to her. Surprise, worry, and hope stirred in his eyes.

“Didn’t fancy Ravenclaw?” he quipped hesitantly.

“Not exactly.” She gave him a sad smile, trying to convey that she wasn’t exactly sure how she felt about her true house affiliation either. “I’ll tell if you do.”

Harry smiled. “On three?”

They counted down in hushed whispers, staring at one another in silence when the same house tumbled from their lips. Once the shock had settled, they shared relieved smiles and Hermione settled against Harry’s shoulder again.

She wasn’t alone after all. And neither was Harry.