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Dystopia

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Dystopia

By Montley

30 Days Before It Happened

            Her pace through the hallways exacerbated her as an imposing figure against the rest of the staff. The sound of her heels reverberated against the cold, steel tiled floor; same pattern, same time and same uniform as every other day since the day she was hired. Since she was born she was blessed with status under their noble ruler.

            As her shoes clonked in the hallways, she nodded to the others who passed her in the halls, and they addressed her in the same manner as they always did, for she was blessed, not them.

            She approached the end of the steel corridor and placed her hand on its scanner. It stretched and narrowed to fit the proportions of her hand and glowed green before the silver plated door slid open, revealing her sanctuary.

            Everyone was in position except for her, and there were still three minutes left as she arrived at her station. She sat in her usual blue spinning chair and sprawled her papers on the large desk in front of her, sighing with content.  

            One of the interns placed her coffee on her desk and she took a sip, the excitement of the drink filling her insides. She sat perfectly straight in her chair, staring at the camera in front of her.

            “Five,” the cameraman announced with his palm in the air.

            “Four.”

            “Three.”

            “Two.”

            “One.”

            “It’s exactly six in the morning, and another bright new day in London, meaning it is time to wake up in standard procedure. Thirty minutes until the teleportation tubes are off as normal. I’m Rita Skeeter, and this is your daily wake up.”

XXX

            Hermione, like everyone else in London, sat upright in her bed at the sound of Rita Skeeter’s voice chiming throughout her home. She did not even glance at her clock as she stepped out of bed in a synchronized and practiced motion. Immediately, she removed her pajamas in exchange for her normal gray uniform with the individual green, yellow and red stripes running along the side of the uniform with his symbol on her right breast.

            She left her room for the bathroom facilities and upon entrance she tended to her daily actions; she even had to slick her hair back with gel into a tight bun at the top of her head in order to achieve his thoughts of perfection and subservience.

            Then she left the bathroom, meeting her parents at the top of the stairs, and the three of them headed for the kitchen where bowls of cereal were awaiting them. The television poked out from a corner of the ceiling, and Rita Skeeter’s all too familiar face was on the screen. That day she was wearing purple spectacles and a lime green suit, and her blonde hair was curled around her face which suffered too many facelifts. Her sinister smile was elongated to the tops of her cheekbones, making Hermione believe that one day her face would rip into two.   

            She ate as she listened to Rita’s clear, concise voice drawling out the news, “For economics, coal production is increasing and trade with the ruler of China, Emperor Loki, is continuing peacefully after Emperor Loki’s recent threat of war. Household checks are to begin next week so be prepared. On another note our military conquered Germany last night and they are required to follow similar procedures as us. They are now in league with Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Luxemburg and Switzerland. Rumors are saying that the next conquest will be against Italy or possibly Poland. There is no doubt in the matter that our ruler will conquer it all.”

            Hermione drowned out the television after the report; it was anarchy in her mind, all of it, his rule, his beliefs, and his standings against the world were filled with injustice. But she knew that in his mind the life of each person was only equal to that of an ant’s, and he could easily step on them, crushing them and their humanity. Then there were people just like Rita Skeeter, a mindless drone, along with some of the teachers at her own school. Mindless and only similar to cybermen with their humanity ripped away. But all they could do was to remain silent against him or suffer severe consequences.

            She barely listened as Rita finished her reports, even mentioning the Order, making her parents appear tense, her mother taking a quick glance at the door.

            Finally it was the end of Rita’s reports, two minutes before everyone had to leave their homes to either report to school or to work. Both of her parents worked in the coal mines, directly under his reign while she had to attend school before she would have to work in the coal mines as well or another factory, like most of the population. 

            “Hail Grindelwald!” Rita saluted, and the screen went blank before it dissolved into the wall.

            “Hurry, to the teleportation tubes,” her father ordered. The three of them stood from their seats and ran to the teleportation room. Hermione glared at the tube that had her name printed in silver at the top of the glass cylinder. She entered it and materialized away.  

            She reappeared in front of her locker and immediately opened the lock to gather her books to put in her bag. Her first class of the day was English with Professor Umbridge. Umbridge was the worst teacher Hermione had ever had, and the woman even closely resembled a giant toad.

            Opening the door to the woman’s classroom greeted her with fifty shades of pink which blinded her vision. She stumbled to her desk and unpacked her belongings as she greeted the people who sat next to her, Abraxas Malfoy and Walburga Black.

            “Granger, I’ve been meaning to tell you about something,” Abraxas said.

            “What is it?” she asked warily. Abraxas was normally quiet in class, but outside of class he picked on other younger students when teachers were not watching, yet he never threatened Hermione, only studied her. Throughout their school years, Hermione only thought that he was a bit macabre.

            “Look, just read this and contact me,” he said to her as he slid a small envelope onto her desk.

            She creased her eyebrows at it; it was small and dainty. She began to slide her finger under the flap when he slapped his hand over hers.

            “Not now,” he said through gritted teeth, and she gave him a slight nod before she slipped it inside her bag.

            The door was thrown open and in strode the toad wearing outlandish pink garbs. She smiled at them, sweetly but sickly. She dumped her belongings on the desk and pressed her hands together before speaking.        

            “Welcome, welcome, will you please hand in your essays on our fearless leader, Grindelwald. Place them on my desk,” she requested, and then she seated herself at her desk, smiling like the Cheshire cat at the students who then stood to hand in their assignment.

            Class then began, and Umbridge ordered them to read their textbook on Grindelwald and then prepare a second essay on him which details his constant expansion of the British Empire. Hermione pretended to read the pages which glorified Grindelwald. She knew that this was not how an Advanced Placement English class should be, as they should be studying literature, but there was no way to get Umbridge to ever listen.

            In reality, Hermione and her family detested Grindelwald and wished to strike him down. Her parents worked for the Order under Albus Dumbledore. Over the years, they have been planning to take him down, and Hermione wished to enlist in the group after she graduated. For she could not believe that anything else was more important than defeating Grindelwald: a man who conquered and murdered innocent lives and countries, a man who stole people in the night, a man who was ruthless and dictated them, a man who got a foul beast like Umbridge to side with him.

            Class finally ended, and Hermione gathered her belongings, noticing the top of the white envelope poking out of her bag. Curiosity bit at her, and she glanced at the door seeing Abraxas walking out, his long, platinum blonde hair lying on his shoulders. Nervously, she slightly bit on her lip before dashing out.

            She turned the corner and entered the ladies’ bathroom. She entered the stall and carefully placed her bag next to the toilet before sitting on it. She opened the envelope and read in Abraxas’ scrawl:

            Granger,

            Wednesday night at 8 there’s a meeting for a group of teenagers, basically a branch of the Order, and this is pretty much your invitation to join after careful observation. We know your parents are in the Order.        

            Anyway, I’ll be outside your house at 7:30, I’ll wait five minutes. If you don’t come outside your house then I’ll assume you don’t want to join.

            -A. M.

            She smiled at the letter and hugged it against her chest. It was everything she had been waiting for, a chance to prove herself and take Grindelwald down. 

XXX

28 Days Before it Happened

            Hermione grew impatient for the meeting when Wednesday finally arrived. The only class she could stand that day was Advanced Placement British History with Professor Lupin; he was a suspected member of the Order, which further made him an amazing teacher.

            As seven o’clock crawled by, Hermione decided to put on a simple pair of jeans and a dark t-shirt, even allowing her hair to be out of the ridiculous bun and frame her head the way it was meant to, messily and slightly bushy.

            She kept taking glances out of her window as seven-thirty approached, but soon Abraxas arrived outside her door and she snuck outside, even though her parents were at a meeting with the Order, there was a curfew throughout London for seven.

            She felt giddy as she walked to where Abraxas was standing in a black, leather jumpsuit that bunched around his crotch, which immediately amused her.

            “Something funny, Granger?” he snapped, and she shook her head while holding back a giggle. “Fine, we’re off, c’mon.”

            Abraxas then skulked ahead of her and muttered nonsense to himself.

            “So, what exactly is this group about?”  Hermione questioned as she scurried next to him.

            “As I said in the letter,” he began, “this group is basically a branch of the Order, or that’s what we like to refer to ourselves as. We’re called the Eaters.”

            “Eaters? That’s rather peculiar,” Hermione commented, almost wishing to laugh at the name. Dumbledore founded the Order, an official sounding group whilst these teenagers chose to go down in history as the ‘Eaters’.

            “Tom came up with it,” Abraxas replied with a shrug as they continued walking.

            “Tom?” 

            “He’s our leader, Tom Riddle. He’s not nice at all, but he’s the smartest person that I’ve ever met, that’s for sure,” Abraxas confirmed with an appreciative nod.

            “Tom Riddle,” Hermione pondered. “He graduated last year, didn’t he?”

            “Yes, now come on, almost there,” Abraxas urged as he walked into the middle of the street. He waved for Hermione to follow and approached a pothole in the group and lifted it, tossing it to the side. He began to descend down a ladder inside the sewer, and Hermione poked her head in.

            “Is the base in the sewer or is this a shortcut?” she asked Abraxas as he climbed down.

            He rolled his eyes at her and snapped, “In the sewer, where else would I be leading you? Wonderland? For the smartest person in the year, you’re very annoying. Now come on!”

            She ignored the urge to yell at Abraxas, and she began to descend down the ladder, listening to the echoes of her feet around her and the constant drip of water.

            “So you recruited me for my intelligence,” she said with a smile.

            “Yes, but I sort of assumed you figured that out for yourself,” Abraxas said with another roll of his grey eyes.

            “Just confirming,” she said, concealing another smile. She jumped from the ladder onto a puddle, and Abraxas led her through the sewers, occasionally taking peaks behind to make sure that she was still following him.

            Soon there was a large steel door in front of them without a handle. Abraxas scampered up to it and lifted a padlock, instantly typing in a password to allow them entrance. The door slid open from the side, and Abraxas entered. Hermione took a deep breath and smiled to herself before entering the Eater’s sanctuary.

            Inside there was not much light around, but she noticed about twenty other teenagers in black jumpsuits milling around or on laptops that were strewn about. She noticed designated rooms, but there was only a stir of voices and the constant drip of water still existed around them.

            “Follow me,” Abraxas ordered her before he began walking away. She listened, and he greeted others who passed him, seldom saying their names: she heard him say Rodolphus, Cygnus, Walburga and Alphard. He led her inside a separate room, again typing in another password. It was a large room, filled with weapons lining against the walls. A lone boy sat at a desk, his frizzy mane of black hair framing his face. “This is Arcturus, weapons developer and tech expert.”

            “Nice to meet you, Arturus, I’m Hermione,” she greeted, holding her hand out in front of her. Arturus ignored her and continued his work instead.

            “He doesn’t talk much, just to Tom really,” Abraxas admitted with a shrug. He walked over to a cabinet and unlocked it. Lining the cabinet were more of the black jumpsuits. Abraxas sifted through them before finding a suitable one. “This is for you, wear it for next meeting.”

            She nodded before asking, “How did you know my size?”

            “Oh, um, uh, lucky guess,” he muttered with wide eyes while Hermione rolled hers. Abraxas shuffled past her, and he led them out of the room.

“So what happens here exactly?” she asked curiously.

            “You’ll find out, meeting’s gonna start soon,” he answered and led her to a different part of the sewers where small, plastic chairs were lined together in rows of four on two different sides with a podium in front of them. Some people were already seated, and Abraxas sat down in a row in the back, forcing Hermione to have no other choice but to sit next to him.  

            Soon a young man walked up to the podium, standing behind it as he sorted through some papers. He was tall and very pale, his hair a dark, obsidian black. She recognized him as Tom Riddle, whom Abraxas had said was the leader of the Eaters, a name which ultimately disturbed Hermione.

            Tom had graduated from her school the previous year with honors and recognition of his scholarly abilities. There were rumors that Grindelwald had wanted to recruit him as a high officer, but shortly after graduation the boy disappeared, only to now turn up as an Eater. Hermione did not know him well, but she had witnessed his intelligence a few times at school in her advanced classes. Of the few things she had come to know about him, she knew that he would never wish to be under anyone else.   

            “Everyone sit,” he said clearly into the microphone, his eyes individually glaring at everyone around him as they settled into their seats. “This meeting has commenced. As you probably heard in Skeeter’s announcement today, Grindelwald’s armies have conquered Germany, another great power, showing that he is only growing stronger. She is right in the fact that it won’t be long until his empire grows. Now the Order has done nothing yet to prevent this occurrence, except for recruiting Harry Potter into their ranks.”

            The name struck a chord in Hermione’s heart, for she had used to be friends with Harry, until he had disappeared last year. He was her best friend and now she had none.  No one else had wanted to be friends with a bushy haired, buck-toothed, know-it-all, and the thought almost brought tears to her eyes, but she held them in, for in her mind she must remain strong.

            “As you know he had been captured by Grindelwald but escaped with vital information against him. With the help of the Weasley’s and the other Order members, Dumbledore is going to use him, and then we will have no leverage in this fight, they could possibly defeat Grindelwald ahead of us,” he continued solemnly, his lip twitching at the end of his speech.

            “Isn’t that good?” Hermione said, standing up from her seat. Tom looked at her, anger boiling inside his body. “Harry’s good, Dumbledore’s good, we’re fighting for the same cause.”

            “Who is this?’

            “I’m Hermione Granger,” she said confidently, never breaking eye contact. Abraxas tried to pull her back down in her seat, but she would not budge.

            “Very well, Hermione,” Tom drawled, “And why are you here? To fight against Grindelwald like the rest of us.”

            “Of course, no other reason.”

            “Who brought you here?” he demanded sharply.

            “Abraxas,” she answered, and Abraxas shriveled  down in his seat.            

            Tom caught his eye and demanded, “Keep her in line, Abraxas, or she will have to be removed.”

            “I don’t need being kept in line,” she insisted defiantly. His dark eyes traveled back to her, and she never broke eye contact with him as he gripped the papers in his hand, close to ripping them.     

            “Of course you do, Hermione,” he snarled. “Now sit and listen like the good little girl you are.”

            Hermione glared at him, yet Abraxas was still able to pull her back into her seat as Tom continued speaking about Grindelwald and the Order, listening to other Eaters’ discoveries. Even though Tom was cold, Hermione knew that everything had finally changed for the better in her life.

            And she smiled.

XXX

23 Days Before It Happened

            Books, they were fascinating creatures in Hermione’s mind. Most books those days were censored or simply outlawed by Grindelwald. He preferred that they only read educational books, especially ones that included details of his own life. But Hermione saved her books from being confiscated, as all fiction was banned. She kept her Dickens books, ones by Agatha Christie, and little picture books about fairytales ranging from Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast. They soothed her and reminded her of better times before Grindelwald when she was a little girl. They sucked her in and let herself forget about her current life for a short time.

            Sighing, she finished Tale of Two Cities for what felt like the millionth time, finally persuading herself to begin her homework from that day. Umbridge had forced another assignment on Grindelwald upon them, but luckily Professor Lupin did not give them any assignments, against Grindelwald’s preference. Professor Lupin was the best professor Hermione ever had; she wished that he could replace all of the corrupted teachers such as Umbridge.

            As she did her homework her thoughts drifted to Tom Riddle; he was stern, but Hermione could not place him or his behaviors. She believed that of what she had seen in the last two meetings, his mind was extraordinary, showing his blueprints for weapon’s development and theories as to Grindelwald’s next actions. According to Abraxas, Tom had been correct thus far, and as Abraxas said, Tom was a perfect leader. Aside from that Hermione disliked his personality; he was rude and nasty, shutting her out and everyone else for his own opinions ahead of everyone.  In ways she believed that he only cared for himself and not the fate of the country.

            Suddenly, the doorbell to her home rang, and she slowly retreated off of her bed, feeling insecure as she was only in her pajamas. She opened her bedroom door, slightly ajar, and peaked out of the door frame, her hair flouncing about. Her mother had answered the door and a young man in a guard’s uniform was standing at the entrance.

            “Hello miz, I am here for zee household checks,” he said with a nod to her mother.

            “Do you have a warrant?” her mother requested and the young man nodded, pulling both his badge and a sheet of paper from his pocket. “Very well, come in, do your business.”

            “Thank you, miz,” the man said and entered the home, glancing around at his surroundings.

            Hermione softly closed her door, her heart thudding like mad. Rita had reported that household checks were going to occur soon, but she was furious that she had forgotten. Her new Eater’s uniform was sprawled on her bed and she dashed for it, seizing it and curling it into a ball inside her dresser. There was nothing more she could do but wait for the guard to come into her bedroom, wishing that he would find nothing to implicate her with.

            She sat on her bed, trying to concentrate on her homework, but the sound of the man’s boots unnerved her, and soon, her door opened. The young man had thick, black eyebrows, but he was very tall and thin, yet sallow looking. To her he appeared grumpy with his sharp profile.

            “Ah hallo, miz, I am here to do zee household checks,” he announced as he made his way into her bedroom, scanning her possessions.

            “Hello,” she said in return. The young man started to sift through her belongings, appearing bored. Then he opened her dresser as Hermione’s heartbeat grew stronger and faster. Slowly, he drifted to the next drawer of her dresser, the one with her uniform, and Hermione prepared for the worst. He reached in and unraveled her Eater’s uniform. Hermione closed her eyes, waiting to be shot, or worse, arrested.

            “You are vone of zem,” the young man declared, and Hermione nodded in pride, staring the man straight in the eyes. “Vondervul!”

            “E-excuse me?” she said, mystified at his reaction.

            “You’re vone of zee Eaters, um, vat’s your name?” he asked, and still in shock she muttered her name to him, shaking her head in disbelief. “Ah, Hermy-own-ninny Granger, I am eager to halp.”

            Hermione remained silent in her astonishment. The young man sighed and continued speaking, “I haff alvays hated Grindelvald, and joined to get information, but zee Order vould not except my halp, and I fear you von’t either. But I am Viktor Krum, and I vill leave my contact information vith you. Zank you, Hermy-own-ninny Granger, I vish to talk to you again zoon.”

            He approached her and carefully placed a card in her small hands compared to his large ones. He held her hands in his for a long minute before slipping away and out the door to check the rest of the house.

            She was amazed that she was fortunate enough to have Viktor Krum be the man who checked her home, but she knew that everything happened for a reason. After she heard her house door shut with a click she went to her window and saw the strange looking man walk away. He faced the house for a second, and saw her at the window. He smiled and waved before he marched down to the next fortunate home.

            Again, she smiled.

XXX

21 Days Before It Happened

            “Grindelwald and his armies have successfully conquered Italy, another step against our efforts. Now that he has the Italians, our effort seems to be weakening, and thus we have to gain leverage and strike back,” Tom announced with great authority over the other eaters. “Rodolphus Lestrange and Cygnus Black.”

            Immediately, like obedient soldiers, the two boys stood in their seats and faced Tom.  

            “You two will infiltrate Grindelwald’s palace, no complaints, no strategy, just leave an impression.”

            The two boys nodded and once more sat in their seats. Hermione’s mouth opened, and she stood while Abraxas tried to pull her down.

            “Surely that will kill them!” she exclaimed.

            Then Tom’s eyes were like daggers piercing into her own. His head slightly twitched, and he bit down on his lip as he contemplated Hermione.      

            “You defy me twice now, Miss…” he stated.

            “Granger,” she said proudly, her hands on her hips whilst the rest of the Eater’s stared at her in bewilderment, Abraxas in amusement.

            “Granger,” Tom repeated, grounding each syllable slowly, mockingly. “We are at war in case you do not understand, and the rest of the world needs to know that we can get to Grindelwald before we make our final strike, understand.”

            “That doesn’t mean risking innocent lives,” she challenged. “Obviously I want Grindelwald to be taken down, but he is honestly the only life we can spare. By all means, risk your own life, but don’t put those boys in danger. I doubt that they are even seventeen yet.”

            “They are our weakest assets, and if Grindelwald is feeling merciful they might get arrested or they will get out, but honestly, I don’t care, but they will do as I say, not you,” he snarled, his long hands gripping onto the podium.

            “You’re horrid.”

            “But you can’t leave,” he said with a tantalizing smile before he ignored her and continued with the meeting. Slowly, she sat in her seat once more, defeated and angry.

            “No one can get through to him,” Abraxas whispered, leaning towards her ear. “His word is law around here.”

            She nodded and scanned the room for Cygnus Black, and her eyes soon landed on him, and she saw him shake and shiver from fear. To her, he did not look any older than thirteen. A lump grew in her throat, and she felt a lone tear sliding down her cheek. Cygnus’ and Rodolphus’ deaths were unnecessary to the cause. Her eyes roamed to Tom, answering questions with unbroken authority, and she knew that he was a monster with the face of an angel.

            The meeting soon trickled to a halt, and she stood with Abraxas as they began to leave, surrounded by the others. Unconsciously, she adjusted her uniform and sucked in her stomach as she walked, hearing her voice being called behind her.

            She turned, and noticed Tom’s gaze on her. He stood in solitude, and Hermione almost did not walk towards him until Abraxas pushed her, and she knew that it was not only for her own sake.

            “Yes,” she said when she approached him.

            “Come,” he beckoned before he turned around and began walking away.

            “Where?” she asked, refusing to move another step.            

            “I don’t need to tell you,” he sneered.

            Hermione openly groaned as she began to follow him deeper into the sewers, leading her to the weapon’s room Abraxas had shown her before. Arturus was no longer inside, and Tom grabbed a small gun from the wall before he retreated away, waving her along with him. He led her to the end of the sewers, where only a drip of water could be heard.

            “What are you going to do, kill me,” Hermione snapped as she walked right in front of him as he filled the gun with bullets, jabbing him on the chest. He laughed at her openly, and her face turned into a grimace. “Well, I won’t let you.”

            “No, you stupid girl,” he patronized. “Target practice.”

            “I’m not stupid, Tom Riddle, and one can’t be too careful around you,” she admonished.

            “Truer words than I can say,” he laughed. He placed the pistol in her hands and fitted her hands around it, with his over hers. “Make sure that your finger is on the trigger and you have to aim. See the target at the back wall.”

            She nodded, and his hands were still wrapped over hers as he pressed his pointer finger down onto hers, pressing the gun’s trigger. The bullet was shot out of the gun and arrived at the outer edge of the target.

            “Should be better,” he said disapprovingly, and Hermione gritted her teeth to keep herself from saying another word, for he had basically shot the gun for her. He seized the gun from her hands and showed her the way to refill it with bullets. “Now watch.”

            He stood with perfect posture as his hands softly clutched the gun. He aimed for the center of the target and the bullet left the gun with a crack, only to land on the bulls eye.

            “It’s simple, Granger,” he said plainly when he returned the gun to her.

            “You know,” she said, “I had thought that someone like Abraxas would be teaching me this.”

            “Why waste the opportunity to get to know you,” he answered quickly.

            “I’m sure you have more on your mind than getting to know me,” she said to him before she fired another shot, missing the target.

            “That was terrible,” he claimed as he shook his head while returning behind her.

            Again he laced his fingers over hers and aimed for the target, his body pressing against her back.

             “Perhaps you’re right, though, there is more,” he whispered in her ear, tickling her neck. She jumped away from him before firing the gun, once more hitting the edge of the target.

            “Well, what do you want to know, I’m an open book,” Hermione muttered sarcastically, trying to ignore his breath that still lingered on her neck. 

            “Your parents,” he drawled, pushing some of her bushy hair over her shoulder, tickling her neck.

            “Stop touching me, and I’ll tell you,” she said, and he obeyed, still standing behind her, breathing so utterly softly. “They’ve been part of the Order for a while, but they want to keep me safe, so they don’t know I’m here.”

            “Very well,” he approved. “How much do you know of Harry Potter?”

            “Oh well, me and Harry, along with my other friend Ron Weasley, we were best friends until his parents were murdered, and he left school, then Ron and his siblings left. As far as I know now he’s with the Order as he hasn’t remained in contact with anyone,” she answered silently, tears wanting to fall at the thought of her old friend.

            “Do you believe that he’s a threat?”

            “No,” Hermione answered as she fired another bullet, closer to the bulls eye.

            “That’s the end of that, I suppose, he’s simply information to the Order, red herring possibly,” Tom muttered to himself, and she could feel him pace behind her, his footsteps echoing off of the ground.

            “Well, what about your parentage, your history?”

            “What?”

            “You heard me, Riddle. If I have to tell you everything, you might as well share something,” she said.

            “I do not,” he responded.

            “This is not how the world works, Riddle, you get what you give,” she retorted. A shot blasted from the pistol, and the bullet finally landed near the bulls eye, and she smiled.

            “Leave,” Tom commanded, and she turned around.

            “You’re not going to praise me, I came close to the bulls eye,” she said with a smile, noticing his dark eyes were glowering, forcing her smile to falter.

            “Leave,” he ordered again.

            She took another look at him as he glared at her, and said, “Fine, but you know I’m going to be coming back, Riddle. I joined and I’ll never leave until Grindelwald is taken down. We obviously have our differences, and I’m going to make sure I’m righted in this situation, because you’re just as wrong as Grindelwald.”

            Then she turned and walked away from the angry boy, for that was all he was, a misled and angry child. She knew that even as he grew older, he would always be that way. Intelligent, great, maybe even magnificent, but always a terrible being.      

XXX

17 Days Before It Happened

            In Professor Lupin’s class, Hermione was liberated. It was as though the ocean surrounded her. She had already theorized that because of Professor Lupin’s type of discipline, he was part of the Order along with her parents, and a great addition at that.

            She scrawled her notes on her paper as Professor Lupin whipped out another joke about Napoleon, and she smiled along with her classmates, wishing that Harry and Ron were there with her, that she was not alone.

            Yet, the doors were slammed open, and in marched three of Grindelwald’s guards. Lupin turned quiet and the rest of the class stared at the door.

            One then announced, “Turn on the television.”

            Lupin nodded and silently obeyed, though Hermione knew that he was outraged. Rita Skeeter’s stern face appeared on the screen.

            “Last night the palace of Grindelwald was invaded by two young boys, Rodolphus Lestrange and Cygnus Black, identified by the fingerprints they left behind. It is now known that they are members of a largely unknown group called the Eaters. If anyone has information on the Eaters or of Lestrange and Black you are liable to contact the Guard, or you, along with your families will be persecuted by law. Have a fantastic day,” Rita ended with a wicked grin.

            “These two boys,” one of the guards said, “attended this school, and as their classmates, each one of you will be questioned, starting with Brown, Lavender.”

            The blonde girl stood in her seat, her hand bowed down as she approached the guards. One placed his hand on her back, making her spastically flinch as they escorted her out of the room.

Lupin sighed and grimly continued with his lesson as students were taken outside and walked in again. Hermione knew that Tom had gotten what he had wanted, to be known and to be feared.

Soon it was Hermione’s turn. She confidently strode into the hallway with sad looks surrounding her. The guards then attached her to a polygraph.

            “How well do you know those boys,” one spat.

            “I’ve never even spoken to them,” she answered.

            “Did you know of their associations?”

            “I suspected.”

            “Do you have the mark of the Eaters?”

            Confused, Hermione responded, “No.”

            “Very well, you’re free to go inside, send out Longbottom, Neville,” one of the guards instructed. She then left their presence, enticed by the sound of a mark and thrilled that Rodolphus and Cygnus survived Tom’s death trap. 

XXX

14 Days Before It Happened

            Another meeting had just ending, and Tom had been on another endless rant with no utter point but to just reiterate what Rita had announced a few mornings ago. Again with his theories, and again with future plans that had not yet been put into action. Though he did commend, in his own way, Cygnus and Rodolphus for their actions. According to him, Grindelwald was now wary of the looming rebellion.

            Abraxas began to lead her out as normal when Tom cornered her, waving Abraxas away, who then shrugged passively, leaving Hermione officially alone.

            “You know, Hermione, you’re not a full member as of yet,” he said to her, so close his heavy breath was touching her face while her hair blew slightly in its wake. The rest of the members had left the sewers, besides for Cygnus and Rodolphus who were now living in the sewers in order to remain in hiding.

            “What do you mean? I’ve always been at the meetings since I joined,” she asked. 

            “Yet, you don’t have the tattoo,” he pointed out, his arm reaching out and stroking a soft spot on her arm, and Hermione did not know why she did not snatch her arm away from his strangely gentle grip.

            “So that’s what the Guard was on about when they visited the school,” Hermione muttered to herself.

            “You’re quite lucky that I have taken a liking to you,” Tom laughed as he unconsciously wrapped her hair in his fingers. “Otherwise, I’d have removed you without that tattoo.”

            “What is this tattoo,” Hermione asked warily, staring at his fingers which continued to run through her bushy locks.

            “It’s a snake on your arm with a chip inserted inside,” he responded, concentrating on her hair as he leaned in closer to her.

            “And the chip does what, exactly?” she questioned further.

            “I’m sure you know. You ask too many questions that you already know the answer to, but it alerts you when I need you and tracks you in Arcturus’ computer,” he replied with another laugh.

            “And you use this on us because we’re not really your friends, but you view us as your followers, and I don’t need you to say that I’m correct, because I know I am. So no thank you to your goddamn chip, I won’t be marked. You don’t own us!” she yelled, slapping his hand away from her face.

His eyes locked with hers and he gripped her hand in his, rubbing her thumb. He said nothing but he stared straight through her as if he was reading her mind, and Hermione feared to say another word against him.

“Then leave,” he said softly. “Suffer the consequences.”

“No,” Hermione said, lost in his dark eyes full of toxic poison, drowning her inside. She bent her head down while her teeth bit down on her bottom lip, Tom’s eyes still swarming in her mind. Slowly she removed her hand from hers, her heart beating steadily, though she could hear it, growing louder and louder. “No.”

“Good,” he uttered, his hand, uncaring, touching her face and rubbing her bottom lip. She looked up at his eyes, those eyes that reflected darkness. She wanted to reach closer to him as her heart attempted to bequeath, though she stepped back, using her correct judgment for once. Her footsteps thudded in the sewers as she began to walk away towards the door, shaking her head as he simply stood and stared, his figure more prevailing and formidable than all. And it truly was terrible because at that moment it dawned on her that she genuinely adored him, the psychopath.

XXX

11 Days Before It Happened

            It was another humdrum day for Hermione, but her only thoughts circled around the Eater’s tattoo, a mark, but most especially Tom. She was furious at herself for falling for him, a boy, no man, who would have no hesitation in killing her. Yet the mark would brand her as Tom’s follower forever.

            She worried about Tom, but mostly his sanity. She knew that it was thinning away to nothingness as he progressed in this constant, unchanging pattern. Though, above all his intelligence allured her, for she had yet to meet another whose intelligence had matched or surpassed hers, until he came into her life.

            She listened to her home’s front door being thrown open and one of her parents march in loudly. The loud footsteps allowed her to identify it as her father returning from an Order meeting. But the fact that he was without her mother piqued her curiosity as she walked towards her door. Her father was at the end of the hallway, weeping, his tears dropping onto the floor.

            “You have to leave, Hermione,” he wept, his hand now slung against the wall to support himself.

            “What happened?” Hermione asked, worried.

            “The Guard infiltrated the Order, they killed your mother, and they’re coming after us. You have to run,” he ordered, still weeping. Hermione ran to him and hugged him, never wishing to let go. Tears slid out of her eyes at a rapid pace, not wanting to believe that her mother was dead, her mother…

            “But, Daddy-,” Hermione moaned against him, her tears staining his top.

            “Hermione, I know you joined the Eaters, go to them, they will protect you,” he said to her, kissing the top of her head. “I’m so proud of you, Hermione, so damn proud.”

            “But, I can’t leave you,” she begged.

            “I know you don’t want to, but they’re coming after me now, you have to run,” he warned. “I’ve accepted my fate, but goddammit I won’t let them get you. Just know that I love you, Hermione, and your mother loves you too.”

            “I love you, Daddy,” she said, and he released her from the embrace just as the doors to their home slammed open.

            “Surrender or die!” a voice boomed from downstairs.

            “RUN!” her father yelled, pushing her away from him forever. Gasping through her tears, Hermione ran to her bedroom and opened her window.

            Looking back at her weeping father, she jumped, landing in the bushes. She groaned at the slight pain that encompassed her before she was able to once more stand and run towards the streets.

            She noticed more of the Guard marching through the streets as she stumbled in her steps on her way to the sewers. She looked back towards her home, where her father and her mother had lived together, happy, before Grindelwald, before his army, before everything. A loud gunshot boomed, and Hermione knew that it was against her father. She cried in woe, imagining her father’s crippled body slamming against the floor and her mother’s face forever frozen in shock and in death.

            Weeping, she left her street and her home as she stumbled to the sewers. She slipped on a puddle and wept softly on the ground, with no one around to hear her sound.

            She did not know how much time had passed as she laid there, thinking, thinking about her parents, about the Order, the Eaters and Grindelwald, and strangely enough, Tom and his dark, poisonous eyes. She imagined his voice in her mind, instructing her, as he so loved doing.  

            A kick pressed against her side, and she groaned in her misery.

            “Get up,” a stern voice ordered. She looked through her blurred vision at the man standing above her, and there he was, Tom. Silently, she held onto the ladder for support to pull herself up, and looked him directly in his dark eyes where no emotion was found. “What are you doing here?”

            “I-the Guard came to my home,” she answered solemnly.

            “I see. Then set up a bunk inside,” he instructed as he began to walk away from her.

            “Wait,” Hermione implored.

            “What?” Tom spat, annoyed at her petulance.

            “I’ll take the mark,” she said. She had already lost so much because of Grindelwald, her mum, her dad, her home; the mark was all she could earn at this point.

            “Very well, follow, Hermione,” Tom said, giving her a slight nod and waving her onward. He led her through the sewers and opened the entrance to the Eater’s hideout before leading her into a separate area. He shuffled through drawers and pulled out a tattoo gun. His eyes lingered upon her, scanning her body in his gaze, concentrating on the small of her back as he slightly bit down on his bottom lip.

            “Up against the wall,” Tom instructed.

            “Why?” Hermione asked, wary of his intentions.

            He rolled his dark eyes at her and said, “So I can do the damn tattoo.”

            “There should be a chair if you are doing this properly, especially since this is supposed to be on my arm,” Hermione retorted through a small sob. What would her parents think? Though, that no longer mattered.

            “Not for you, Hermione. We’re in a goddamn sewer, and it’s a delicate art, now up against the wall and take your shirt off. No, I’m not going to rape you if that is what you are insinuating, I have no patience for this,” he snapped, and Hermione sighed and did as she was told, it was better to have this over with quickly and not enrage him. She slid her black shirt off of her body, revealing her lace, white bra. She placed her hands on her hips, and waited for him to begin. His eyes roamed over her body, and she grew insecure under his tight graze, crossing her arms over her stomach. She was not perfectly skinny like she wished, for she had fat in areas on her thighs and her stomach; she was not partial to being under his scrutinizing gaze, for why would he?

            He was soon released from his daze as Hermione began tapping her foot impatiently on the ground.

            “Turn around.”

            She did and pressed her hands against the wall to give herself support, knowing that only pain was to come. She heard him approach and his long pale finger stroked the small of her back, causing a shiver to crawl up her spine. He slowly ran his finger along the spot meant for his mark and traced over the area in the shape of a circle before he placed the needle up against her spine. He leaned over and breathed against her neck before his mouth traveled against her ear.

            “It will hurt,” he whispered before letting out a small chuckle.

            The needle began to buzz, ghosting against her skin, teasing her. It finally pressed down along her spine as Tom traced the outline of the snake, his snake. Hermione groaned as the needle ran against her. She bit down on her lip to distract herself against the pain, and he chuckled at her once more.

            The needle desisted, and she twisted her head around to watch him. He slowly dipped the needle into a jade green color. He looked up at her, and his black eyes met with her brown ones. They glinted of anger.

            “Face the wall,” he ordered spitefully, before pushing her against the wall with a single hand.

            Suddenly a feeling as though she were being stabbed shot through her body. Inside her body, her spine felt tiny arms crawling and settling on the area of her tattoo as it latched itself against a vertebra.

            “What was that!?” she demanded as she removed herself from the wall and faced him, jabbing her finger along his chest.

            “One of my own inventions, pet,” he chuckled. “The chip.”

            “I thought Arcturus made everything,” Hermione said, feeling foolish for forgetting the chip.

            “He builds what I design,” Tom spat. She pressed her hands against her back, letting them slip down and trace over the small of her back. It was smooth against her touch, and there were no signs of there chip.

            “Where is it?” she questioned.

            “Attached directly to your spine in order to send the nerve impulse to alert you when we are meeting.” He smirked at her as he took a step closer, one after the other. He placed his long hands on her shoulders and started tracing circles as they traveled down her arms. Hermione did not know why she was letting him do this, but in earnest it was what felt right, and there was no other way she could put it. He was detestable, cold, no love inside his body, but she knew that she wanted him.

            His hands landed on the small of her back, tracing over the snake tattoo, as he chuckled again. 

            “No one else has the tattoo on their backs, only on their wrists,” he commented.

            “Why?” Her mouth felt dry, and her insides were melting against his touch. He removed his hands from her back, making her plead internally for his touch to return. He pushed her against the wall once more, then his hands landed on her hips as he leaned in towards her ear.

            “Because you’re special,” he answered.

            In an instant his lips landed on hers with a need, with a thirst. He held her by the small of her back while she griped his shirt at the top of his back. She tasted nothing against his lips, nothing remarkable or recognizable. It was him reflected on the outside; his emptiness and need burning through. But she let herself get lost in him, letting herself drown in her sorrows against his lips while the tears for her mother and father left her eyes.

            She sank deeper into him, reveling deeper into her own pain and sucking in his.

XXX

10 Days Before It Happened

            Hermione stretched her body as she awoke the next morning. Her body was frigid, and her back ached. She realized that her shirt was still off, and her cheeks flushed red when she saw Tom next to her. Fortunately he was fully clothed, but one of his arms was slung over her possessively, but Hermione knew that she did not have sex with him. Yet, that thought brought allowed the memories of the prior night to flood back into her mind. Softly she wept to herself as she realized she had nowhere else to turn but to him, to a man with a broken soul.

            Carefully she lifted his arm above her, placing it back on the ground as she stood. Cautiously she retreated away from him and towards the computer. It indicated that it was 5:57, close to Rita’s morning wake up. She closed her eyes and started to dream of a world without Grindelwald, oh, how different it would be. A world full of freedom, a world that still contained her parents, but a world without Tom. She opened her eyes and glanced at Tom, sleeping on the ground, the only time he appeared peaceful. And she knew that that world would be worth it.

            Rita’s morning wake up began, and Tom awoke with a start. Hermione watched the foul woman smile at her unfortunate viewers, and Tom soon hovered behind her, listening eagerly to the news.

            “A great event occurred last night,” Rita said with her signature wicked grin. “Order members were either killed or captured. Those arrested for detainment and possible execution were Remus Lupin, known teacher at Grindelwald’s School, Molly and Arthur Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and Ron Weasley. Those killed were Sirius Black, Charles and Diane Granger, Marlene McKinnon, Amelia Bones and Alastor Moody. If you know of any other Order members, it is your duty as one of Grindelwald’s citizens to report this. Though on a lighter note, in five days Grindelwald will be hosting a gala for his honored citizens. Invitation are to be sent soon. Hail Grindelwald!”

            Hermione’s breathing grew shallow; each name she knew or recognized. Her eyes were once more filling with uncontrollable floods of tears.

            “I see, your parents I presume,” Tom said, devoid of feeling.

            “Yes,” she breathed, and he leaned in closer to her, kissing her neck, and she let him.  

XXX

5 Days Before It Happened

            For the past days it had been mostly just Hermione and Tom. Cygnus and Rodolphus, who were staying the sewers as well after their rendezvous, were not around them unless Tom needed them. He usually sent them out to retrieve more food and supplies. When it was the two of them, he would take advantage of her, and she would never cease to drown in his constant kisses.

It was strange to her how she grew to love him in those days. He cared for her and protected her, though she did not need it. They read stories together, and Hermione was marveled at Tom’s collection of books which he kept hidden in the sewers. All of them Grindelwald had banned, though there was rarely a book that was not banned. 

Yet, Tom continued to plot, and had sent Arcturus, who was in the sewers more than most, to hack into Grindelwald’s system. Then during one of their meetings Tom had taken Hermione aside and was about to speak to her when Arcturus raised his hand.

            “We have access!” Arcturus proclaimed Tom and Hermione immediately ran towards where he was seated in front of one of his laptop, Hermione eager to know everything that was happening.

            “Access to what?” Hermione immediately asked.

            “Grindelwald,” Arturus answered with a wide smirk, showing Hermione and Tom his computer. Laid out in front of them on the screen was an outline of Grindelwald’s palace, with details of every security system inside the building.

            “Fantastic,” Hermione whispered, smiling at Arcturus.

            “I know,” Arcturus said as he leaned back in his chair.

            “ATTENTION!” Tom yelled, and everyone around him was quiet. “I need two volunteers.”

            Everyone in the room exchanged nervous glances as Hermione looked at Tom curiously. But soon, two reluctant hands were raised, and Tom urged them to come to him, and Abraxas was one of them.

            “What do you need?” Abraxas asked once he and Walburga were next to them.

            “Hand them over, Arcturus,” Tom ordered, and Arcturus reached into his pocket and pulled out two small microphones and gave them to Abraxas and Walburga. “Put those in your ear. This is how we shall keep contact with you while you are in Grindelwald’s palace. We have previously received information that tonight he is holding a sort of gala for his own followers and loyal citizens to revel in his victory over the Order. Arcturus has forged an invitation for you two to attend. You shall separate from the party, avoid Grindelwald, access the main security system as shown on the screen here and shut it down. Simple. Understood?”

            Both Abraxas and Walburga nervously nodded their heads. Hermione gazed at Tom’s demeanor, how calm he looked while she knew that Abraxas and Walburga were screaming of fear in the inside. Yet of course, Tom was not doing the deed himself.

            He then sent Abraxas and Walburga to change before Hermione could say a word in their defense. Though she knew that since Abraxas and Walburga volunteered, there was not much she could do for them besides listen in and help along the way.

            Tom sent them into a different part of the sewers, informing them to change in the clothes laid out for them. They soon came back; Abraxas was wearing a suit which was a size too small, and Walburga was wearing an elegant, emerald dress which suited her dark, brown hair perfectly.

            “Good luck, Abraxas, Walburga,” Hermione said, and she claimed Abraxas in a hug. Hesistantly, with Tom’s glare on him, Abraxas returned the hug and patted Hermione’s back uncomfortably.

            Abraxas parted the hug and gave Hermione a half-smile. Then they left for Grindelwald’s palace with pistols hidden inside of their clothes. Tom gave Hermione one of the microphones as she, Tom and Arcturus watched the laptop, seeing Abraxas and Walburga’s every movements through their tracking device.

            “Are you sure that this will work, Tom?” Hermione asked.

            He did not answer; instead he concentrated on the screen. Abraxas and Walburga finally entered the building, indicated by pulsing red dots. They entered the ballroom, staying next to each other until Tom instructed them to leave, making them en route to the security center.

            “Make a left,” Arcturus told them.

            “Got it,” Abraxas replied through the microphone which screeched in Hermione’s ear. The dots pulsed on the screen, turning left and entered another room.

            “Find the computer in the front of the room labeled, ATS,” Arcturus continued.

            “We found it,” Hermione heard Walburga say.

            “Turn the computer on if it isn’t, and the password is NAdiNe745300,” Arcturus told them. “Then insert the disc I gave to you into the computer.”

            After a moment Abraxas yelled, “The computer’s sparking!”

            “That’s fine,” Arcturus said calmly. “Now get out of there!”

            “Shit,” Abraxas muttered as the sound in the microphone became fuzzy.

            “Abraxas?” Hermione called through her microphone. “Abraxas? What’s happening?”

            “I don’t know!” Arcturus yelled, exchanging a nervous look with Hermione.

            A shot of a gun resounded in the microphones, and the three of them ripped it out of the ears. In trembling fear for their lives, Hermione brought the microphone back to her ear, where only silence was heard. Arcturus did the same while Tom left the room, simply proud that what he had desired was fulfilled. Hermione glared at his retreating figure, a sob wishing to leave her throat, for he did not care in the slightest.

            “Walburga?” Arcturus said, with little hope left.

            A moment passed, and there was finally a response. “A-Arcturus, I-I’m here.”

            “Thank God.” Arcturus sighed. “Are you out?”

            “Yes, but-.”

            “But what?”

            A sob was heard on the other end of the microphone as Hermione’s heart thudded. “Abraxas is dead.”

            Arcturus ripped his microphone out of his ear and broke it in his hand. He slammed his fist against the table and pushed his laptop away while Hermione began to let herself sob.

            “Fuck!” Arcturus yelled, standing from the table and walking away, his fist soon punching the sewer wall in front of him.

            Slowly, Hermione stood from her stop, unable to believe that Abraxas had…died. She was alone, but chose to follow where Tom had left from, knowing that he was heading towards where he slept at night.

            When she reached him, he was sitting on his makeshift bed, concentrating on the book in his hands. She shook her head, her face forming a sharp frown.

            “You bastard,” she claimed through a sob. He looked away from his book, placing it to the side as he stood, slowly approaching her.

            “Say that again.”

            “You bastard,” she repeated as he came closer. Tears spilled out of her eyes as she started to throw punches at him, but he caught her hands in his. She breathed heavily as he bent down and angrily kissed her, pushing her against the wall, her tears against his angry face.  

XXX

3 Days Before It Happened

            After living in the sewers for around a week, Hermione desired the sun. Constantly she was surrounded by the darkness, by the coldness, but she wanted to be free. Inside, she felt guilty and used by the man, no boy who controlled everyone. He desired her more than she desired him, and she had no idea why, for there was no love. He had used her pain after Abraxas’ death and took her in the way she feared against the sewer wall. She wished to be a bird, to fly away from everything for a short time, and to be loved. Her parents were gone, and they were the only ones who ever loved her.

            And now Abraxas was gone as well, shot to death, leading him to no doubt bleed alone on Grindelwald’s floor, Walburga not even caring to help him as he had no doubt laid in his misery. Though Walburga did not reveal anything else besides the fact that he was shot by one of the Guards after he had hidden her under a desk. Hermione presumed that his body must have been burned, and his parents would never know what happened to their missing boy. Hermione let herself cry for Abraxas; he was a bully, but her first friend after Harry and Ron left her. And Ron was arrested, in line for execution, while Harry’s fate was unknown.

            Yet, Tom still planned, seldom paying her attention. He walked and pondered around the sewers, trying to string out every fault in his plan. Grindelwald had won in their last attempt to lower his defenses. When Arcturus returned, he told them that some of the defenses were lowered thanks to Abraxas, but the disc was not able to finish its duty.

            But Tom was stuck on how to return to Grindelwald’s palace. He was eager to finish the deed and kill him once and for all. His anger reminded Hermione of the guard she had met during the household checks, Viktor Krum.

            Reluctantly, Hermione returned to Tom’s room, where he had…taken her. It was mostly consensual, but she felt guilty and tainted whenever she saw him. She knocked against the wall, alerting Tom to her presence. He looked up from another book he was reading, his lone black curl askew in front of his pallid face.

“Tom,” Hermione said to him. “Look, a while ago, during the household checks, I met a guard who wants to help.”

He smirked wickedly. “Who is he?’

“Viktor Krum,” she said. “He gave me his number.”

“Give it,” he ordered, and she ran her hands through her pockets, pulling out his number. “Call him.”

He handed her his cellphone, watching as she pressed the numbers on the keypad. She brought the phone against her ear as Tom watching her as he smirked.  

“Hallo, who iz this?” Viktor asked when he answered.

“Vi-Viktor, it’s Hermione Granger,” she said, biting down on her lip.

“Oh!” Viktor exclaimed in recognition. “Vhat do you need?”

“Your help,” she said and handed the phone to Tom who instantly took it and began speaking of his plans to Viktor, officially enlisting the older man in the Eaters.

            Viktor arrived later in the afternoon at Tom’s request. Arcturus met him outside of the sewers, leading him inside. Viktor smiled when he saw Hermione as she stood next to Tom. She gave him a weak smile in return.

            “I’m here to halp,” Viktor told Tom, who only nodded, accepting the two uniforms of Grindelwald that Viktor offered to him. Tom smirked.

            “You’re helping too, Hermione,” Tom ordered, smirking at Hermione and placing his hand on the small of her back.

XXX

The Day It Happened

            “He’s coming,” Hermione said again as Tom grew more impatient waiting for Viktor. “This is your plan anyway, not Viktor’s.”

            Tom huffed in annoyance, attempting to ignore Hermione. She began fiddling with the Guard uniform Viktor had given her, one that forced her hair into a tight bun like her school uniform had. Yet, she admired the way Tom’s fit on him, like he was always meant to wear some sort of uniform. But soon Viktor’s truck came towards them; he lowered his window and urged them to enter.

            “Velcome,” he greeted. Hermione smiled at him, but Tom refused to say a word. Instead, Viktor sighed as his truck trudged on to Grindelwald’s palace.

            Hermione gazed out the window of the truck. The moon trekked after the truck as the stars surrounded it. The only time she had been allowed to leave the sewers, and hopefully the last time, the sun was not even outside to greet her and warm her of the coldness that had been surrounding her.

            “As you two know, zee way to zee throne room eez simpy through the main corridor, but intact with zee different passwords I already gave you two,” Viktor told them as he drove along, closer and closer to the final draw, and hopefully the end.

            “Thank you, Viktor, for everything,” Hermione commended, and Viktor turned around and smiled at her, his bushy black eyebrows connecting.

            “Turn around,” Tom ordered, and Viktor frowned at him before he turned. Hermione elbowed Tom on his arm, and he glowered at her before he threw the same arm around her shoulders, sending another glare towards Viktor, feeling victorious when he noticed Viktor’s defeated appearance.  

            “You’re horrible,” Hermione whispered to him, and he only smiled cheekily at her in return. The truck soon halted, and Viktor, with new confidence, faced them once more.

            “Zee front door will need zis key card,” he said before handing Hermione a thin, gray card. “Good luck, and eef you fail, do not mention me to zee Guard.”

            Hermione nodded, but Tom was once more passive as they left the vehicle.

            “Only caring about his own ass,” Tom muttered.

            “Enough, he was very helpful,” Hermione said to him as she nudged him away.

            “Quiet,” he ordered as he stepped in front of her. “Just act confidently, like you belong here as we discussed.”

            Together they climbed the front steps of the palace; the two guards at the front only nodded, appreciating the uniforms Viktor had given to them. Assuredly she walked with Tom, slipping past him to enter the key card. It was verified by the door and it flung open.

            The hallways of Grindelwald’s palace were vast and empty only filled with different forms of art: paintings, statues and exquisite floor tiles. Tom simply walked past it, and Hermione hurried to catch up with his pace, to keep it in unison, for Viktor had warned them that the Guard’s poster and behavior was always perfect, for that’s how Grindelwald loved it.

            They reached the second door without a word, Tom’s face passive and Hermione’s heart racing out of thrill. She entered the password, NaDinE7523, and the doors slid for them. The next pairs of doors were the same and each hallway identical in the fact that they were all empty but filled, each door requiring a different version of Nadine.

            Soon they arrived at the last door, where the password was simply, ‘Welcome.’ Before Hermione opened the door, Tom held her in his arms and kissed her softly for the first time, and she finally became entranced. He parted softly, his lips lingering for a second before he opened the door himself.

            “I WELCOME YOU TOM RIDDLE AND HERMIONE GRANGER!” a voice yelled and echoed through the vast and mighty throne room. Inside a great golden throne was at the center of the room, with dozens of portraits of Grindelwald throughout the ages lining the walls. Grindelwald, an old and wizened man was dancing on his throne, and he threw a red carpet down the room, and it made impact with the entrance of the room. “WALK ON MY RED CARPET!”

            Tom held her hand as they walked along the carpet to the end, end of what, Hermione did not know. Grindelwald laughed maniacally at them as he danced upon his throne, dressed in his own red carpet lining with what could only be cow’s hair.

            “It’s over Grindelwald, you will fall to me,” Tom said stoically below Grindelwald’s throne, and the mad man continued laughing hysterically, encouraging the guards around him to do the same, which they did obediently as if it was their last.

            “You’re tainted Tom Riddle, don’t think I don’t know the amount of deaths on your own fault. Everything is on you, like everyone else tracing back to your own mother, dead at your birth, and I doubt that your girl here knows. Death follows you around doesn’t it. Like that boy recently you sent. How I enjoyed throwing his still breathing body out the window.” Grindewald laughed manically, imagining a helpless Abraxas in Grindelwald’s murderous hands. “Yes, I know everything about you, how you plan to use that name when you kill me, we’ve been tracing you through Viktor, COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS, though you did block us out of the sewers. But that, that’s in the past, but what do you plan to do now, foolish boy?! You’re alone! LIKE ME! Kill the old loon if you want, I don’t care, I WELCOME IT!” Grindelwald yelled, striking fear into the souls around him. Tom stole a glance at Hermione, and Grindelwald’s grin turned wicked and spiteful a she noticed the exchange. 

            “Your death is imminent!” Tom declared.

            “If you so desire, my boy, but LOVE IS WEAK!” Grindelwald yelled as he lifted his pistol in the air and pointed it directly at Hermione, and Tom looked at her in fear. “You will be alone like me!”

            “I don’t love!” Tom snarled as he brandished his own gun in front of him, pointing at the ruler.

            The moment was fleeting, but a million hearts raced.

            As the pistols fired, a puff of smoke followed in the bullets wake and one traveled to Hermione, who was unable to make an effort to move, her heart shattered. A lone tear ran down her cheek, and everything was silenced around her. She caught a glimpse of Tom’s mouth open and yelling in a panic. She caught his eye, her lips trembling and mouthed ‘But I love you’ right before the bullet went straight through her heart.

            Slowly her body tipped backwards and fell with a second loud thump against the ground, and a lost boy was enraged with vengeance in his heart.

            And he walked towards the throne and kicked Grindelwald’s lifeless body away.

            He sat on the throne and proclaimed himself Lord.

            Lord Voldemort.