The black dial phone stood out awfully among the cream coloured furniture in her house.
The phone belonged to her grandfather. Coated in a fine layer of dust, it lay in the attic of her parents house for decades. No one knew of its existence until her parents decided to move to the countryside for a peaceful life. Hermione remembered how she found it amongst other junk her grandfather collected. An ugly thing, with scratches and dents, in bad need of fixing. "To my David, love Jeanine" it read on the back. Apparently it was a gift from her grandmother to her grandfather when they were couples, and the phone just happened to be something her grandfather had been pursuing for years.
The old man at the antique shop had fixed the thing for her, free of charge. Seeing as she hadn't much friends that would call her, nor any colleagues and associates for that matter, she decided that buying a new phone was just a waste of money when she still had her student loan to return. She needed to save as much money as possible.
It's been three days since she went to the police, put up a notice on the third page of the Daily Prophet, and begged her friend Harry for help. Harry happened to be one of her few friends, a well-known detective at that. Harry had refused at first (Hermione well knew how he was appointed the director of a murder investigation, and knew how he wanted to make a name out of it), but Hermione used every tactic; she cried, went down on her knees in front of his neighbours to guilt him into relenting. She felt awful. But then, anything to find Tom.
The first phone call came an hour after the Prophet was distributed to the public. It shouldn't be very hard, Hermione had thought as she sent her notice to the Daily Prophet. After all, he does have quite an eye-catching tattoo.
She was wrong.
The tattoo was wrong. It was always wrong. The caller would send a photo of a man exactly Tom's height, with black hair, as it said in the notice, but they were never the same shade as his. The eyes were too bright, the hair colour lacking in its wet shine. Minor differences only she would notice. She had considered Tom removing his tattoo; so she added in her notice, not to mind the tattoo too much. A mistake, she soon found out, as her mailbox was over flooded with envelopes containing photos of dark haired blue eyed lads, but none of them were Tom. (She erased the additional note from her notice)
She added a drawing of Tom's tattoo in the next publish of the Daily Prophet. Another friend of hers, Neville Longbottom had offered to help with the drawing. Although he was neither a tattoo artist nor an illustrator, his drawing talent was exceptional.
"Just a man with a lame hobby of drawing plants in the weekend," Neville said, bidding good luck as he left her flat.
Her flat had been shrouded in silence since. The ticking of the old clock she got from the antique shop cut through the silence, tick tick chop. It never showed the correct time.
The black dial clock was still the black sheep amongst her furniture.
Now she just resented it even more.
Every time she returned from University, or her part-time job, or the library, it would stare back at her, mocking her.
"Waiting for a call, are you?" it seemed to crackle. "Well, I ain't giving you any. You just keep waiting on that pathetic bottom of yours."
'Shut up,' Hermione would think, but the phone just grinned.
Ron called her on the third day she slept alone by herself.
"Who the bloody hell is Tom Riddle?" His first words to her in a month. Hermione could almost see his eyes glinting with jealousy, his freckled face flaming up with anger. It was quite hilarious, Hermione decided, and chuckled quietly.
"What's so funny?" Fumed Ronald.
"Why do you care so much?" Hermione replied, with a hint of sarcasm. "Miss me?"
"God, Mione," Ron groaned over the phone. Hermione heard unintelligible muttering in the background. "It's been two months. Let it go already!"
Dare he? "Watching TV again, Ronald?" Hermione mentally scolded herself for the obvious change of topic. Of all the people, Ronald was the last person who needed to know her anger and sorrow at their breakup. It had been all better after she met Tom, but then... "Have you finished your assignment? Or perhaps Lavender's doing it for you," she said snidely. "Oh wait, she can't. Is this what this call is about Ronald? Need help doing homework?"
"Jesus Hermione," Ronald spat. "Don't be such a bitch. Lav's way more better than you in many ways."
And with that, he hung up.
Did he call me a bitch? Hermione wondered. Did he really? Dare he?
She slammed the receiver back down. All it did was laugh merrily.
Harry hadn't called her in days. Well, technically he hadn't called at all; it was always her, begging for more details, more effort, and him always bagging up with an exasperated sigh and exclaiming he was doing his best.
Crookshanks hadn't been home for a while either. She hadn't expected less, to be honest. Crookshanks relied on her only for food, and seeing as she neglected her duty, it was understandable that he no longer saw any merit in staying with her. The cat liked Tom. Tom hated the cat. He would always scowl and cluck his tongue in distaste whenever the feline would jump onto his lap for a good scratch behind the ears, but he would always begrudgingly rub it's furry tummy whenever he saw Hermione's expression. Chivalry was still alive in him.
When the black phone gave her a begrudging ring, Hermione was on it in a second.
"Yes?" Hermione replied, her voice a croak. "Yes?"
"Well, okay, so I have some news on Tom..."
"Yes?" Hermione snapped, impatient for the news. Go on go on hurry up...
"Well, I stumbled across —my colleague stumbled across— this ad," Harry hesitated. "For men's suit."
"And?" Hermione said impatiently. Andandandand
"Well he fits the description of Tom," Harry said timidly. Hermione narrowed her eyes slightly. Did Harry think she was delusional? That she had a made-up boyfriend from the model she supposedly saw on the streets?
Sensing her anger, Harry hurriedly added, "I'll just send you the photo."
He hung up.