On Monday morning Hermione got out of bed feeling well rested. Thank God she hadn't had any nightmares, if only every night could be dreamless like that. After some time, she sat in the great hall having breakfast in a pleasant mood. She'd slept for roughly eight hours, but for some reason it felt like sixteen. It was nice to have her mind and body so relaxed, she couldn't recall the last time it'd been this way, ever since arriving in the 40s. After having some water, the head girl slightly smiled as she started to put jam on her toast. A little got on her thumb, and she put it in her mouth to lick it off. Suddenly, her eyes found Malfoy staring at her and she immediately lowered her hand, feeling disgusted. Before giving him a hateful look and he touched his upper lip with the tip of his tongue. It'd been for a second and no one had noticed, so her murderous stare towards the blonde aristocrat, was puzzling the nosy and curious students nearby.

Abraxas Malfoy was now busy looking at Lestrange as they conversed, but there seemed to be a smirk on his face when his lips weren't moving. When she finally looked away from the pureblood king of bullies, her dark expression remained. But before she could avert her gaze from the Slytherin table, Tom looked up from his book and caught her eyes with his.
Hermione made her face emotionless, but she couldn't have been fast enough, since the dark lord raised an eyebrow with a questioning look. Seconds later his expression darkened, and she almost dropped her toast. Ah, Merlin. No that look had never been for him, how was she supposed to let him know without-. Fuck it, anything was better than having the dark lord angry at her. The bushy haired witch pointedly looked at Malfoy and grimaced, then she looked back at Tom before raising an eyebrow, with a neutral expression. The heir of Slytherin's moody look instantly vanished, then it was followed by a death glare, towards Malfoy, and the pureblood almost fell of his seat.
Suddenly, Hermione's eyes and hands found a glass of orange juice very interesting, as she heard whispers with her and the dark lord's names. When all attention on her seemed to have died down, she got up to leave and came face to face with Susan.
"No need to be un-pleasant" the girl said, raising her hands. "I didn't see any secret form of communication between two tables," she continued in a sarcastic tone, while smiling.
"There was and it wasn't a secret" Hermione said, putting a shocked expression on the girl's face.
"You're admitting-" Susan started with a high pitched voice.
"I didn't want my colleague to mistakenly think my anger was directed at him" the head girl cut in. "So I let him know it was intended for Malfoy," she added, moving towards the exit.
"You're not fooling me" Susan said loudly as Hermione continued to walk away.

Hours later, Hermione Granger walked towards the last class of the day. So far everything was going smoothly, Tom and her had gotten on well in classes, and students seemed to have lost interest in gossiping about them. But despite all that there was kind of a sour expression on her face, because it was time for defence against the dark arts. It was the least favourite of her classes because Merrythought always favoured the dark lord, and she couldn't help hope that one day, that biased woman would recognise she was good too.

After making her expression neutral, Hermione entered the classroom and took her usual place near Tom. Suddenly, a confused expression was on her face as she realised the witch at front wasn't Merrythought. Must be one of the ministry's substitute professors, she thought as she started to look calm again. And soon, the middle aged female confirmed that she was indeed a temporary professor from the education department. Her name was Gillian Farrow and she would be teaching today's class, as Merrythought was away due to an urgent personal matter.
A faint smile appeared on Hermione's face, she might actually enjoy the class today with a professor that didn't have favourites. Soon everyone was wearing a name tag, after the professor told everyone to magic themselves one, since she didn't know anyone's names. Then Farrow told everyone to stand, and the students obeyed with mostly questioning expressions.

"You are almost halfway through the year." Farrow said, drawing her wand. "To gain experience for the practical exams," the professor continued, summoning a notebook. "Merrythought has asked me to have you all duel a single opponent" The class broke out into excited whispers, while Hermione fought to keep a horrified look of her face.
No, this could not be happening. A duel had been her only chance to prove she could magically fight Tom without getting disarmed in seconds, but Merrythought wasn't here to witness it and probably never would. Arrgh, why was this-? She needed to let it go, it was annoying but it didn't matter if Merrythought was prejudiced and biased, she knew she was good enough and reality wouldn't change, just because someone refused to believe.

Suddenly, she found Tom looking at her with a blank expression. After holding his gaze for a few seconds, she looked away with a racing heart. Bloody Merlin, no doubt she'd be paired with him, as he was her partner in class. Fuck, she had to let him win, didn't she? To keep him happy and to allow him to continue believing, she was weak in magically fighting back. Yes, for the bigger picture and the greater good. But she didn't have to make it easy, no. He'd win alright but after much difficulty.
Soon, Farrow made all the desks and chairs vanish. Then she paired everyone up by reading from a notebook, before asking the students to queue near the wall with windows. As Hermione stood near Tom, she couldn't help feel a little nervous. Which was stupid because there was nothing to worry about, but the feeling just wouldn't go away. Well, at least she was luckily at the end of the line. Actually, it was more to do with Tom wanting to be far away from everyone than luck. Still, she was glad for it this time.
"Crabbe, Nott" Farrow called out, and Crabbe and Nott walked into the centre of the classroom. "Bow down," Crabbe and Nott both bowed to each other. "Wands ready, 1-2-3 go,"
"Expeliarmus" Nott said and Crabbe tried to block it, but he was too slow and his wand dropped out of his hands.
"Very good, Nott." Farrow said, giving him an approving nod. "Your performance is very poor Crabbe, you need to react faster." The boy looked like he was about to cry, as he walked away and Nott was smiling ear to ear. "Malfoy, Lestrange" Farrow called and they walked into the centre, before bowing to each other. Their duelling was interesting to watch and went on for much longer. In the end Malfoy managed to Stupefy Lestrange. "Excellent, Mr Malfoy." Farrow said, clapping her hands. Malfoy smiled and twirled his blond ponytail with a smug look, while a revived Lestrange walked away red faced.

After some time, her and Tom were the only two students left that hadn't duelled. "Riddle, Granger." Farrow called and Hermione forced herself to walk into the centre, with her heart beating a little fast. The dark lord stood tall, with a confident posture and his eyes seemed almost predatory. Although the bushy haired witch appeared calm, she was slightly intimidated. And the excited whispers of students, mixed in with bets being placed on who would win, made her even more anxious. "Bow down," Farrow suddenly instructed. Her quick bow appeared like she'd been imperisued to do it, while the dark lord's one looked gracefully. "Wands ready," they both pointed their wands, and she could've sworn a faint smile was tugging at Tom's lips. "1-2-3-go."
"Expeliarmus" the young dark said, flicking his wand.
"Protego," she voiced, instantly blocking it. The whispers of the students became louder, and Farrow looked curious.

"Stupefy" she easily deflected his spell again. He began to throw non-verbal spells at her and she conjured a shield to block them.
"Petrificus totalus," Hermione shouted and he blocked it.
"Diffindo," she sharply moved out of the way, and blocked another non-verbal spell
speeding towards her. "Confringo," he shouted, striking her shield and it exploded, bursting into flames. They leapt towards her, and most of the people in class were shouting at her to move.
"Aguamenti," she screamed.
"Duro," she heard him shout, while she was busy putting out the fire. Hermione quickly looked up and caught his smirking face. The flames had been a distraction, and his spell was almost touching her.
"Protego" she shouted, skidding to the side. But the spell still managed to lightly graze the sleeve of her left hand, and when it turned to stone she looked down at it in horror. Tom looked angry that he'd missed touching her skin, and as he shot more spells towards her, she forgot all about her stony sleeve. "Protego," Hermione screamed, blocking them in time and then she conjured up another shield. Soon he used a non-verbal spell to attack it, she was expecting the shield to completely disable his spell, and was surprised when a crack appeared.
With a wave of his wand, he made a brick appear out of thin air. Before throwing it at her and the solid, three dimensional rectangle flew through the imperfection of her shield.
"Expulso," she shouted, with a shocked expression. The brick broke into pieces, and a shower of red particles sprayed out through the room. The noise and excitement in the room increased. And so did her anger as she glared at Tom, while sending a non-verbal spell towards him. He gave her a toothy smile, and blocked her magic with a lazy flick of his wand. Arrgh, she seriously wanted to wipe that smile of his face. Hermione threw a bunch of conjured sharp nails at him, his smile vanished and using complex wand movements, he made them disappear. "Stupefy," she shouted while he was distracted. He blocked it in time and glared at her.
"Impedimenta," she blocked the spell and a few other non-verbal spells. They continued to block each other's spells and he appeared to be getting angry at his failures. He started to use more darker spells and getting angry she switched to dark spells as well.
"You are not allowed to use dark spells," Farrow shouted but they ignored her. Farrow and the class full of shouting students all vanished from her mind, it was just her and Tom.

"Serpensorita," Tom said, making a huge snake appear. It hissed at her, showing its fangs but the scaly creature didn't scare her.

"Mr Riddle, remove the snake immediately" Farrow shouted, and some of the students were screaming in fright. And like before the professor's order fell of deafened ears, as her and the dark lord, were stuck in a universe where it was just them.
"Expeliarmus," Tom shouted, trying to disarm her while she slowed the snake down, and the head girl blocked the spell with difficulty. Meanwhile, the serpent gained strength and lunged at her.

"Expecto patronum," she screamed, focusing on her best memories. A burst of white light erupted from her wand and shaped into an otter, then it chased towards the snake.
The creature drew back startled and trying to use the moment as a distraction, Tom threw a spell at her. "Protego," Hermione shouted, avoiding it. "Duro," she said, pointing at the cowering snake and as it turned to stone, her patronus vanished.
"Stop," Farrow roared, as the head girl ducked another dark spell from the heir of Slytherin. "Expeliarmus," the professor shouted repeatedly, pointing her wand. They both blocked Farrow instinctively, seeing it only as magic from an enemy, and were too engrossed in their own battle to take notice of reality. After avoiding another harmful spell, Hermione pointed her wand downwards.
"Expulso," she shouted, shattering the stone snake and then, she threw the pieces at Tom.
"Eavnesco," he screamed, making them vanish. Then he made a slashing motion with his wand, causing streaks of purple flames to speed towards her, and she immediately recognised it as a non-verbal curse, that caused serious internal damage.
"Protego Horribilis," Hermione shouted, making the deadly flames disappear. "Sanguifervanna," she said, throwing the blood boiling curse at him with a hateful expression. He repelled it looking absolutely furious, before throwing something dangerous at her, and soon she did the same. They both looked mad, with their hair wildly out of place and their crazed expressions. It was like they were soldiers in battle, and the head girl's traumatised mind had tricked her into thinking, she really was fighting in a war.
"Expeliarmus," Farrow shouted, sounding more desperate but it was no use.
"Substitute for defence against the dark arts," Malfoy said with a taunting tone, and most of the Slytherin's laughed.
"Mr Malfoy-." Farrow started angrily.
"That is what you are," the blond aristocrat said coolly. "Perhaps you should fetch Dumbledore," he drawled, repositioning his pony tail.
"Expeliarmus" Hermione shouted, after shredding the dark lord's shield, and a second later he shouted the same spell. They both tried to block the disarming magic, while the remnants of Tom's dying shield went out with a bright spark, and it was so blindingly disruptive to their sight, that they weren't fast enough, and soon their wands flew out of their hands.

A clattering sound rang through the room, as their magical sticks landed on the floor, and they both stared at each other with expressions of shock and disbelief, while Farrow looked relieved. Oh God, this was a classroom, not a battlefield. Why the hell had she-? Thank Merlin fate had stopped her from revealing more of her magical strength, but it'd still been more than she'd ever shown the dark lord. Did he suspect-? Breathing heavily, she looked at Tom and found he was breathless too. His expression wasn't questioning or threatening, he looked stressed, so then surely everything was fine.

"You two," Farrow said loudly, and they both immediately looked at the professor. Shit, the dark spells.
"Professor, I'm extremely sorry." Tom said, making his expression apologetic. "I never meant to use dark spells," he added, sounding really sorry.
"I didn't mean to use them too," Hermione said, looking apologetic.
"Blocking a member of staff is a heavily punishable offence," Farrow said with a stern expression.
"It wasn't intentional, professor." the heir of Slytherin said, lowering his head.
"I didn't realise I was doing it," the bushy haired witch added with a regretful look. Crap, Tom would probably wriggle himself out of it. But what was she supposed to have done, get hit by his dark spells?
"I see," Farrow said, in a softer tone. "But this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, especially for a head boy and head girl." the professor added, shaking her head.
"I am deeply disappointed at my loss of control," the heir of Slytherin said, raising his head. "I assure you, it will never happen again." he added, looking the professor right in the eye, and as Farrow's stony expression melted, Hermione felt like rolling her eyes. The substitute professor was still young, and probably new to her job and so not immune to Tom's looks.
"I apologise for my behaviour too," the Ravenclaw head girl added.
"Good to hear," the professor said, with her eyes still on the dark lord and Hermione almost gave her a dirty look. "Plenty of Slytherin students in the past have gotten carried away duelling," Farrow said, giving the dark lord an understanding look. "But you two will still have to be punished," Damn it, it was all Tom's fault for first using black magic but-wait, did she just say-?
"Granger isn't in Slytherin," Malfoy said loudly while hand combing his hair, and the sound of whispering flooded the room. "Professor," he added, in a tone that said she was stupid.
"Thank you, Mr Malfoy" Farrow voiced, giving the aristocrat an annoyed look. "Ravenclaw," she said in a disbelieving tone, narrowing her eyes at the eagle etched on Hermione's robes. "Well, historically Ravenclaws who are competitive have done the same before," Farrow said hurriedly, appearing to not want to linger further on her mistake. But the class didn't seem to want to move on, as the whispers had now become loud conversations. Hermione swallowed feeling uncomfortable, and Tom looked emotionless. "Silence" the professor said, raising her hands and soon the room went quiet. "Granger, Riddle. As you both disarmed each other simultaneously, it's a draw." Farrow said, scribbling in her notebook. "You both win the duel," the professor added, putting down her quill. Hermione couldn't help a small smile, and the dark lord looked pleased. "As for the punishment, 50 points from Slytherin and 50 points from Ravenclaw." the classroom filled with whispers again, the bushy haired witch looked a little annoyed, while the heir of Slytherin's expression was blank. "Also, remain behind for detention." Farrow said, levitating her notebook into her bag. "Class dismissed," she added in a loud voice, and as students started to leave, Hermione couldn't help the sour look on her face, but the dark lord's expression was unchanged.

Seriously, detention right now? For a temporary professor the woman was too much, especially when she wasn't even good at the subject she was substituting. As the last two students left, Tom magically fixed his hair and cleaned his clothes.
"What do you require me to do, professor?" the dark lord said, lowering his wand and Farrow looked lost for words. No doubt the dark lord's neatened appearance had made him better looking, and her mind was probably running into the gutter. Yep, the professor's cheeks had definitely gone very pink. Tom must've noticed as his head was now lowered, and he'd slightly turned his body sideways.
"The detention task, professor." Hermione said, and was surprised by how cold her voice had sounded.
"My, aren't you eager." Farrow said nastily with a fake smile on her face, and the head girl was suddenly reminded of Umbridge. "You will find it quite easy," the professor said, putting her eyes back on Tom. "I need you two to capture a boggart," The dark lord's head snapped up, and Hermione's eyes widened. "It's for a lesson tomorrow," Farrow added, oblivious to their uncomfortable appearances. "They can be quite tricky," she said, giving Tom a smile. "The old classroom on fourth floor may have one," she continued, grabbing her bag and then she walked a few steps towards the door, but Tom and Hermione hadn't moved. "Come along, Riddle." Farrow prompted, looking behind her. "Granger," she added in a less enthusiastic tone.
"I can bring the boggart to you, professor." Tom said, taking a step towards Farrow. "You must be tired, please stay and rest." he added, with a smile.
"How caring," the professor said, completely turning towards him. "But I have to decline," One of the dark lord's hands curled into a fist. "The more people there is, the easier it's supposed to be." she continued with a smile. "I feel like a walk too," the professor said, turning towards the door. "Come now, unless you're cleverly trying to avoid detention." she voiced as she stepped outside, and her light tone said she wasn't being serious about escaping detention.
"Of course not, professor." Tom said in a voice that sounded controlled, before moving towards the exit with a blank expression, and as Hermione followed him, she noticed his hand was still balled into a fist.

As they walked down the corridor, Hermione glared daggers into Farrow's back. This rubbish substitute for defence against the dark arts, most likely couldn't even imprison a boggart, so she'd cleverly forced the task on magically skilled pupils that needed punishing.
Arrgh, Farrow had no idea what she was asking of her. Yes, it was a magically easy thing but not emotionally. She really wanted to run, not face her fears because they weren't those of an ordinary teenager.
Even the dark lord didn't want to be here, but his reasons were obviously different. He most likely hated appearing weak, and wanted to keep what he feared private. Death was the only thing that scared lord Voldemort, and it must be the same for Tom Riddle too.

Hermione suddenly realised the dark lord's both hands were fists now, and it was understandable when Farrow was behaving like a love struck school girl. Asking him unnecessary questions with that irritating smile, and the lustful look in her eyes was almost predatory. Tom was trying his best to remain polite with one word answers while looking at the ground, and when the professor turned to look at him with a toothy smile, the dark lord crossed his arms. Urrgh, that woman was bordering on shameless. Poor Tom, just because he looked-what the-was she feeling sorry for Voldemort? Not exactly, it just wasn't right for a professor to do that to a student. She'd felt like that because she believed in being on the side of right, even if that student was young Voldemort.
Hermione narrowed her eyes, was it her imagination or-no. Farrow really was getting closer to Tom with every step forward, that was deliberately slow paced. And the dark lord was already so near to the wall, that when the professor arrived right next to him, he wouldn't have any room to move away. The only escape would be to walk backwards, but that really wasn't an option, unless the heir of Slytherin wanted to get accused of running from detention. Maybe he would run, he had during their forced dancing lesson. Then again, he did return in the end. So his perfect good boy image was important to him, than even his own comfort or wish. Therefore Tom must be aware now that he was out of options, as he was almost scratching his crossed arms with his uncurled fingers. Well, there was one thing he hadn't considered. And it was her, Hermione Granger.
Fighting the urge to nastily smile at Farrow, the head girl confidently speed forward and filled the space next to Tom. The professor looked at her with an expression of disbelief that disappeared in a flash, and in its place was a Umbridge style fake smile.
"Eager to get there, professor." Hermione said with a genuine smile.
"I see," Farrow said, coldly before sharply looking to the front. Then it was blissful silence without the professor's babbling born from unholy intentions, and the dark lord seemed relaxed than before, as his arms were no longer crossed even though his hands were still balled into fists.

Tom suddenly drew his magical stick and without looking her way, he pointed it towards her. Hermione jumped, almost tripping and before she could reach her wand, his spell touched her. Fearing the worst, she almost gasped when her glowing left sleeve caught her attention. And she instantly remembered it'd turned to stone, and before her eyes it was now changing back to fabric. Merlin, how could she have forgotten? So that was what was making her elbow hurt, not exhaustion from duelling like she'd thought. Good thing the dark lord had done that to return the favour of her distancing Farrow from him, otherwise her whole arm could've gone numb. Without warning, the professor looked over her shoulder and if she noticed anything different, she didn't show it before focusing forward again.

After awhile, they all arrived on the fourth floor and they hadn't advanced very far, when a red cloaked figure made them halt.
"Granger," Herbet Beery's voice sounded, before his face came out of the shadows.
"Professor," Hermione said uncomfortably. God, just when she'd thought this day couldn't get any worse. "Riddle," he said, acknowledging the dark lord and Tom slightly bowed his head. "And you must be Gillian Farrow," he added, turning towards the female professor.
"Yes," Farrow said, with her cheeks deep pink once again. "And you must be the new Herbology professor," she added in a slightly high pitched voice.
"Indeed I am," Beery said, dramatically bowing and Hermione forced herself to look elsewhere. He wasn't that handsome compared to Tom, but the guilt free tag would probably win her over. And she really didn't want that, because he was a professor and it would displease the dark lord. "Miss Granger, is your messy look a new trend?" Beery asked, making her look at him with an insulted expression. Did he just loudly say-? Oh, the state of her robes and hair were the result of her earlier magical battle, Hermione thought turning red. Damn it, this was so embarrassing. If Farrow hadn't mind fucked her with capture a Boggart, she would've remembered to clean up.
"Granger, got dirty duelling for exam practice." the female professor said, emphasising dirty and the head girl slightly cut her eyes at Farrow.
"Do you mind if I-?" Beery started while drawing his magical stick.
"No need, professor." Tom interrupted, tapping Hermione's head with his wand. The head girl almost jumped and after she'd gotten over the shock, she was glad Tom had fixed her appearance instead of Beery. "It's my fault since I was her opponent," the dark lord said, lowering his wand. "So I should put it right," he added and Hermione couldn't differentiate, if his tone was slightly possessive or protective. "Hope you didn't mind, Granger." Tom said looking right at her.
"Not at all," the head girl replied, as she stared back at his emotionless visage. "You're a trusted colleague," Erm-should she have said that? Damn, she'd gotten caught up in the act.
"Thank you for thinking so," the heir of Slytherin said, curtly bowing his head. Ah, so she'd made a good move. Merlin, he was good at acting gentlemanly. He was pretending, right? Cause that pleased expression looked way too real. Duh, the dark lord was happy the professors were believing his image of a powerful boy, that was also a righteous gentleman.
"Nice to see the head boy and head girl getting along so well," Beery said, looking a little annoyed. "If you're up to something interesting, could I join?" he asked, glancing at Farrow before giving her a smile.
"If a boggart hunt excites you," the substitute professor said, emphasising excites. "Then you're more than welcome to join," She finished with a girly smile.
"I think I shall," Beery said, moving to Farrow's side.

Soon, they all continued forward while the two young professors at the front chatted away. God knows why but Herbet Beery definitely found her interesting, and Farrow obviously had a crush on Tom. They probably couldn't help like what they were seeing, and beyond talking, staring and standing right next to their crush, they probably didn't have any malicious intent. So the two professors had became smitten with each other, when they saw attractive equals with a future, should they choose to pursue it to that extent and Hermione was very glad for it. Since what they'd done wasn't harmful, but it was definitely uncomfortable.

When they arrived at the old classroom, the head girl's pulse quickened and a feeling of dread pooled in her stomach. Seconds later, Tom crossed his arms again and for some reason, the professors started to whisper. Farrow suddenly glanced at her with a surprised expression, and Hermione was sure she could make out her saying the words really and makes sense. What the hell was Berry-arrgh, no. After Tom had taken her bag and the students had spread rumours, Beery had been convinced that she and the dark lord were in a secret relationship. He'd obviously told Farrow now, and the woman must think her earlier behaviour was possessive jealousy, and her expression meant she was wondering how and why, when the head girl wasn't exactly hot. Fuck, the staff were at it too. It's not true, Hermione wanted to scream but instead, she settled for a sour expression.
"From what I saw in class today," Farrow started, turning towards the head boy and girl. "You two should be more than capable of dealing with a boggart," Did she really mean Tom and her alone should-. Yes, thank God, she really hadn't wanted Farrow to know what her boggart was. "I hope you both don't mind if I get Beery to tell me more about Hogwarts," Farrow said, glancing at Herbert Beery.
"Of course not, professor." Tom said, looking relieved. "This won't be hard for us," Us? Shouldn't he be trying to get rid of her to hide what his boggart was, because he didn't know that she knew it was death.
"I agree," Hermione added, knowing it was expected of her by the dark lord. But now more than ever, she didn't want to go boggart hunting. It wasn't just that she wanted to conceal her true fear, Tom was up to something and that was really scaring her.
"Wonderful, I'll be right outside to help if you need any." the female professor said, holding a small wooden box towards the dark lord.
"Thank you, professor" he said, taking it.
"Good luck" Beery said, giving Hermione a smile. "Not that you'll need it," he added, putting his eyes on Tom with his expression now blank.
"Thank you, professor." the head girl said, returning the smile, while the heir of Slytherin gave him a curt nod with his head.
"Good luck too, take your time." Farrow said with a mischievous smile, and the head girl wanted to shout, it's not like that. Beery and Farrow were thinking they were gifting her and the dark lord private bonding time, to share each other's fears so they could fight them together, but the truth was so far from it.
"I won't disappoint you, professor." Tom said, slightly bowing his head, and then he opened the door of the old classroom. "After you, Granger." the dark lord added, stepping back and her heart lurched. Then she took a deep breath and forced herself forward. Surely, he wouldn't harm her with two professors waiting outside. Of course not, so there was nothing to fear expect her boggart. Merlin, how was she-what if it said 'I'm lord Voldemort'? Oh, God, she'd have to be quick. As she crossed the threshold, she heard the professors whispering again and muffled laughter. But to her fearful mind it was no laughing matter, this whole thing could expose her.

As she listened to him enter the room, beads of sweat formed on her forehead and when she heard the door bang shut, she couldn't help jump. "I'll be as quick as I can be," Tom said, stepping in front of her.
"You want to do it alone," she said unsteadily, with a disbelieving expression. Did he really mean to capture the boggart without involving her? That meant he didn't care to know what her-yes, her secret would be-why would he easily expose his true fear? No, something wasn't right.
"In a way," he added, disappearing behind her and her hand instinctively went towards her wand.
"Imperio," she heard the dark lord say before she could touch the stick, and her eyes widened before becoming glassy.
Hermione pulled out her wand and looked at it puzzled. Hmm, why was she carrying a stick? The answer didn't matter, she had to give it to the boy. Who was he and why-she had to give it to him now. The bushy haired witch held out her stick and as he took it, she couldn't help slightly smile at the handsome boy.
Soon, Hermione was looking through cupboards, draws and boxes. She didn't know why, but it was very important to find movement, especially scratching noises in them.
After awhile, she heard rustling sounds coming from a desk near the blackboard. In seconds, she rushed towards it and realised it was specifically from the bottom draw of the furniture. Shouldn't she be happy now? She'd found what she wanted so why-it didn't matter. She had to open it and release-what was she-not important, she just had to let it out. Why did she-it was okay, she had to open the draw. As the head girl did just that, a flood of memories drowned her mind and she suddenly remembered everything. She was Hermione Granger, here with Tom Riddle to-. A scream tore from her throat and she almost fell, as she stumbled backwards. Oh God, lord Voldemort had captured her. High pitched laughter erupted from his snake like face as she frantically searched for her wand, where the fuck was it?
"You've failed, you're worthless." the red eyed wizard said, gliding towards her. "You will die, just like your useless parents." lord Voldemort said, pointing his wand.
"No," Hermione shouted, with tears streaming down her face.

"Avada-" He who must not be named, started and the bushy haired witch dropped to the floor, screaming in fright.

"Arresto comesus timor," a male voice suddenly said, but it didn't register in the head girl's scared mind. Only that lord Voldemort seemed to have paused, maybe he'd changed his mind to do it now and wanted to torture her more. "Diminuendo," Now, you know who was growing smaller and smaller, while he appeared to fly like a bat, was he transforming into one? "Descendo," Suddenly, lord Voldemort moved out of her visual field. With a terrified expression, Hermione slid on the floor to turn her body around, and then her eyes widened in shock.
He'd transformed into his younger self, Tom Riddle. And his long fingers were holding a box, why did he need-? Oh God, he'd stopped because he wanted to use her to make another Horcrux, and that object was for housing the fragmented soul. "It's done," young Voldemort said, lowering his hand with the box. He meant everything was ready for him to go ahead and do it.
"No," Hermione said in a wavering voice, shaking her head. It couldn't end like this after she'd been working so hard to kill him, no, that wasn't right. It was Harry's fate to murder Voldemort, not her but-. The head girl let out a mild scream as she remembered that the boy who lived, lived no more and Voldemort had killed him.
"Granger," Tom said taking a step towards her. Hermione crawled backwards and raised her hands defensively. Then all this she was recalling about it being her mission, more tears sprouted from her eyes as a horrible conclusion formed in her mind. Merlin, it wasn't real. An elaborate hallucination and mind torture from Voldemort to make her think she could change history, because time travel so far back was supposed to be impossible.
Hermione began to laugh as she dropped her hands to her side, then she started to cry again.
"It wasn't real," the young dark lord said, taking another step forward. Her heart lurched hearing him confirm it, and then she weakly screamed in pain. "He wasn't real," Tom added in a higher pitched voice, making her sob. That was the truth, the Tom Riddle she'd been trying to kill had never been real.
"Is this a hallucination within a hallucination?" she said tearfully. "I'm not really at Hogwarts, am I?" she asked, looking down and touching the ground.
"Look at me," his voice said commandingly, but instead of obeying she resumed crying. Suddenly, something that felt like a hand dug into her hair, and forced her head up. "Granger, it's me" he said, emphasising me.
"I know," she said in a shaky voice, of course she knew it was still lord Voldemort.

"Do what you must, I won't beg for mercy." Hermione added defiantly as her eyes watered once more.
"It's me, Tom Riddle." he said in a higher pitched voice, tightening the grip on her hair. She started to sob, why did he keep saying that? Was it a part of initiating another mental game? "That wizard was a boggart, I'm real." Tom said kneeling, and looking her in the eye with a concerned expression. "Farrow gave us detention to capture a boggart, that was your boggart." he said, emphasising boggart. At the back of her mind something about what he was saying seemed true, but she still wasn't convinced.

"I-err-I can't-I don't-" the head girl started with her chin quivering.
"We are at Hogwarts, our home." Tom said, grabbing the material of both of her sleeves near her shoulders, and she blinked several times in shock and disgust, as she found his action somewhat comforting. "This isn't a hallucination," he continued, slightly shaking her and a tear dropped onto her cheek. "This isn't America, it's 1945 and you're safe at Hogwarts." Tom said, stressing the word safe. Salty water started to flow from her eyes, so her reality was real? "The wizard trying to kill you was a boggart, I've trapped him in this box." he said, releasing her and then he held up the box. Yes, that sounded-. "We're here in this room because of Farrow, she wanted a boggart for a class tomorrow." Hermione took a deep breath as she suddenly remembered everything, and as it all finally made sense she began to loudly cry.
"Granger," Tom's voice said in a soft tone, and she turned her face away feeling ashamed. No, she was pathetic and weak. Crying in front of the dark lord because of a boggart, a bloody boggart had almost made her reality and mission undone. "Granger," he called again and she made her hands into fists.
"You don't have to act the good head boy anymore," Hermione said venomously. "I remember everything,"
"Good" Tom said, his voice no longer gentle. "Then you know not to disobey me," he added in a raised voice, putting his wand under her chin. "Look up," he commanded, and she forced herself to obey while determined to no longer cry. His left hand pulled out a handkerchief and when he placed it on her wet cheek, she tried to shrink back and he pressed the tip of his wand further into her skin.
"Stop acting like you didn't imperio me minutes ago," Hermione said angrily, attempting to break away from his grasp.
"I am fully aware of my actions," the dark lord said, jabbing his stick into her neck, and she took in a sharp intake if breath. "I am not pretending otherwise,"
"You selfish, cruel-" the bushy haired witch started hotly, before forcing her tongue to still. God, the shock of everything had clearly gotten to her. Making him angry was a big no, especially when she was wandless.
"Continue," he said, in a high pitched voice as he moved the wand back under her chin.
"You're cruel and unfair," Hermione said in a low rushed voice. Not answering wasn't an option when he demanded one, but she wanted him to calm down. Surely, that would sound like a compliment to his ears, and the quietness of her tone would show, she was scared and submissive to him.
"I can be," he said, slightly tilting his head a little to the left. "95% of the real world is," he said, emphasising real. "Life isn't fair, you need power to make it so." Tom continued in a bitter tone. He must mean his circumstance of being poor and an orphan. "Survival of the fittest," he said stressing survival. He must be thinking his mother didn't survive because she was weak, and in that moment she almost felt sorry for him. "I was the strongest since I had power over you," Tom said, moving his head back to the centre. "So I unfairly chose to make you do the savoury task alone," he added, looking away from her. "It isn't personal," Tom said in a sudden soft tone, looking her in the eye. "No matter who it was, if I have the power and risk no punishment from the authorities," he continued, gazing downwards. "Then I will always chose not to experience the boggart," Tom added, momentarily closing his eyes.
"Better me than you, I understand." she said, almost whispering. What was she expecting from the dark lord, empathy and humanity?
"It isn't exactly like that," he said looking at her again. What did he mean? "If there was anyone else here, I would chose them instead." Tom added, breaking eye contact. What the-? More lies, to manipulate her later to the dark side to use her. "Power is the key to true freedom," he continued with a slightly lost look. "Good, evil, right, wrong, fair and unfair, power is above them all." Tom said, sounding and looking sure. "I could choose to indulge in either one if it serves my interests, or simply because I can." he added, looking at his handkerchief. "Mercy is something I can decide to grant if I wish to, because I have the power to." That's what he was doing now, choosing to wipe her tears because he could, and she wouldn't have the power to stop him if she tried. It wasn't just manipulation to make her think she was worthy of his so called kindness or mercy, he also enjoyed having control over people like some God, and it didn't matter to him if he was doing a good thing or a bad thing. But to think everyone and the world was like that, he was sprouting insanity.
"So you think humanity is a myth, and all decent acts are a fancy of the powerful?" Hermione said and instantly regretted it. Why did she-of course Voldemort was crazy.
"You think I'm speaking nonsense," Tom snapped, putting his wand across her throat like it was a sword.
"N-no, I-I don't." she stuttered with a fearful expression.
"Humanity is a luxury not all humans can afford to indulge in," he said in a cold tone, touching her face with his handkerchief again. "Everyone pretends they have it 100% because that's the norm of society," he added, carefully pulling the cloth along the contours of her face, careful not to make any skin contact. "Those rare 1% that are truly selfless, are innocent fools that get destroyed by the 99%." Tom said, pausing his hand and looking her in the eye. Okay, he was right in a way but not entirely, not that she would voice it and get crucioed. "Power is the only thing that will ensure your safety and survival." he continued, moving his hand again. "It will also give you the power to protect those that you want to," the dark lord said, looking her in the eye again and her breath caught in her throat. What the fuck was he-? Protect her like an object, a prized weapon because he did not care about her. Arrgh, he was an inhuman monster, trying to manipulate her humanity against her. She would not be one of the 1% fools that drowned in a sea of lies, in the end she was determined to win. Now all she had to do was dance to his tune, and act like his plan was working.

Suddenly, his fabric encased fingers slipped from her chin, and landed on her neck. She stopped blinking with a lost look, as the feeling of his fingertips applying pressure on her pulsing artery, overtook her senses. What was this, why did feel so-? Who cares, he was going to die in the end so why couldn't she enjoy whatever this-?
The dark lord removed his handkerchief covered fingers and she blinked annoyed before breathing out in relief, but it was short lived. Because Tom decided to put his square cloth possessing hand in the pocket of her robe, and for a second they both looked at each other unsurely, as they realised the awkwardness of him being inside something close to her body. In the blink of an eye, he withdrew but left the handkerchief in her pocket. "Keep it," Tom said, getting of his knees.
"Thank you," Hermione said, wondering why her pulse was speeding, as she slowly got off the floor and rose to her full height.
"You're welcome," he said, holding out her wand, and a strange shy feeling came over her, in the second that their hands were connected by the stick. When she possessed the wand alone, Hermione tightened her grip on it. Whatever she was feeling, it had to be fear manifesting in strange ways.
Soon, Tom held the door open and waited for her to cross the threshold. When she finally stepped outside she found Beery and Farrow still whispering, and there were smiles on their faces. The head girl couldn't tell if they were directed at each other, or her and the dark lord.
After Tom had given Farrow the imprisoned boggart, Hermione and the dark lord started to walk towards the heads quarters, and she was glad to get away from professors that were behaving like gossipy teenagers.

Some time later, the heir of Slytherin held the door to the heads common room open. The bushy haired witch hesitated before entering, he didn't usually do that so why-? Maybe, he was in a really good mood after making her face the boggart alone.
"Granger," he called, when she was about to walk towards the stairs. Hermione turned around but he wasn't there. Where-why-? Suddenly, a streak of purple light came out of nowhere and charged towards her. She immediately repelled it and a second later, she realised her error. "Explain," Tom said in an angry tone, as his body slowly un-camouflaged from the brown woodwork of the door, and she almost had a heart attack.
"You attacked me," Hermione said, putting on a hurt expression.
"Don't play dumb with me," he shouted, threateningly pointing his wand. She flinched with a fearful look, and tightened the grip on her wand.
"I defended myself, was I not meant to." the bushy haired witch said in a shaky voice.
"Crucio," he hissed. She threw a conjured chair towards the unforgiveable, as she skidded out of the way and the furniture exploded into pieces.

"Please. Whatever I've done, I'm sorry." Hermione said, in a desperate tone as she ducked behind an armchair. Oh, God she was making it worse.
"You have one chance to explain yourself," Tom said, sounding absolutely furious, and she almost hugged the furniture she was hiding behind. "Don't blame me for not being merciful if you don't obey," he added, in a low cold voice and a shiver of fear went down her spine.
"I'm not awful at defending myself if I don't feel threatened," Hermione said in a shaky voice, no point pretending anymore she didn't at all know what he was talking about. "At the duel, I was much better at magical combat because I knew I was safe in the classroom." she added in a rushed voice.
"Come out," the dark lord said in a commanding voice.
"Why?" she almost whispered, pulling her wand close to her body.
"Now, Granger." he shouted and she forced herself to stand, before facing him with a racing heart. Merlin, he looked really angry. "Have you been pretending to be worse than you are?" he questioned, narrowing his eyes.
"No," Hermione almost shouted. "Why would I do that?" she added, shaking her head. Oh God, he knew.
"Exactly, why?" the dark lord demanded, raising his wand as he stared at her with mistrust.
"I haven't, I wouldn't." she said with a pleading expression.
"You would if you were trying to appear less of a threat," he said, pointing his magical stick at her, and she resisted the urge to break into a run.
"Me, a threat to you." she said unsteadily. "It's the other way around," Hermione added, injecting a little anger in her voice. "I'm a 17 year old witch who's good at magic, not great." she continued in a bitter tone. He suddenly started to advance towards her, looking angry as ever and she stumbled back with a frightened look, which intensified when her back hit the wall.
"Stop lying," Tom hissed, poking his wand into her neck.
"Shouldn't you disarm me first since I'm such a danger," the head girl said, attempting a smile but her wavering voice gave away she was scared.
"You think it's all a laughing matter," the dark lord shouted, grabbing her hair with his free hand, and she couldn't help gasp in fear.
"No, the opposite actually." Hermione almost whispered, refreshing the grip on her wand.
"Then tell me why on many occasions," Tom started, looking her right in the eye. "You acted like you don't have the power to block me, when you clearly do." he added, pressing his magical stick further into her skin.
"I admit it was deliberate," Hermione said slowly, with a feeling of dread and he pulled her hair with a murderous look. "But not for the reason you're thinking," she added in a rushed voice. "Yes, I'm good enough to hold you off in the beginning, but I always lose in the end." Hermione said, with a defeated look. "You're more powerful and better than me at everything," Stroking their ego was always a good thing with power hungry dark lords. "So I thought not bothering to fight back was better, than wasting time and energy on a
losing battle." she thought of all the times she'd not drawn her wand on purpose, and allowed the dark lord to sense it with his Legillimency. "And you get so angry after a fight, your cruciatus is the most painful I've ever experienced." Hermione continued with a haunted look, and his grip on her hair loosened. "I prefer it when you're not angry, and I don't ever want to be crucioed by you." she added, thinking back to the times she'd desperately tried to keep him from getting angry, knowing Tom would sense the truth from her mind soon. "Yes, I'm guilty of purposely not using my magic to fight back, because I'd rather have you calm, and not torturing me with unforgivable." the witch finished in a tearful voice, and the dark lord's expression went blank, before he removed his hand and wand from her body. "I don't do well in duels if I'm too mentally frightened, and I don't easily scare." she added, as a drop of salty water leaked down her cheek. "I have defeated Malfoy and Lestrage before. But you, Riddle you really really scare me." Hermione said before breaking down in tears, and he took a step back.
"I won't hurt you," Tom said softly, turning his face away from her. "My handkerchief, use it." Seconds later, she pulled it out of her pocket and dried her face. Afterwards, for a while they stood still and silent.
Then the heir of Slytherin faced her again with a blank expression, and pulled out a vial from his person. "Imperio," he said, flicking his wand at her, before she even had time to wonder what he was up to. The busy haired witch's eyes widened for a second, then she gave him her magical stick, before taking the vial from the dark lord with a dreamy expression. Afterwards, she drank the liquid inside without resistance. Then she handed the small bottle back to him and after putting it away, Tom flicked his wand at her and she blinked several times, before her eyes widened.
"I think you imperiused me," Hermione said, sounding and looking horrified as her hazy memory slowly started to clear.
"I'm a little exhausted today," the dark lord said, touching his temples with his thumb and index finger. "Instead of oblivating you while imperiursed, I thought I'd entertain myself with your reaction." he added with a half smile, as he lowered his hand.
"I remember the once, when you forced me to use your handkerchief." she recalled, as she came to a terrible conclusion. "You've done it multiple times, you obliviated me." she said, stumbling backwards while frantically searching for her wand.
"Looking for this," Tom said with a full smile this time, as he held up her wand and she froze. "In a moment it'll all be over," he said, running a hand through his hair with a tired look.
"What did you give me?" Hermione said in a scared voice, as she touched her stomach.
"You'll like it," the heir of Slytherin said, taking a step towards her. "I think you did before," he added, emphasising before and she flinched in fear.
"You're a monster," Hermione said, giving him a disgusted look.
"Enough," he roared, pointing his wand and she jumped.
"You have no idea what a real monster's like," Tom said in a low angry voice, before punching an armchair. Then he pointed his wand at Hermione, and the head girl hugged herself feeling frightened. "Fear not, I'm not in the mood for cruciatus." the heir of Slytherin said, taking another step towards her.
"Riddle, you don't have to-" Hermione started with a pleading look.
"Quiet," he hissed, placing his wand on her lips. Then the dark lord put her magical stick in her pocket, before sliding his wand up to her head.
"Please don't," the bushy haired witch whispered.
"Obliviate," Tom said with an expression of concentration, and her world blackened.

Hermione blinked finding the light bright all of a sudden, then she went back to staring at the back of the dark lord's head. Was he planning on facing her again? Should she just go to her room or-better not to risk making Tom angry, she should wait a little more. Suddenly, he turned around and she momentarily stopped breathing.
"I wish you a good evening," the heir of Slytherin said in a dismissive tone, while uncrossing his arms.
"I wish you a good evening too," the head girl said in return and a second later, Tom started to walk towards the stairs. Soon, Hermione did the same and after making it into her room, she collapsed on her bed.

Holy mother Mary, Merlin. Oh, God, that'd been close. The head girl sat up before conjuring a goblet, and after magically filling it with water, she drank all of it. Then she threw the liquid carrier on the floor, and dropped back onto her mattress.
Thank heavens her boggart hadn't vocally declared it was lord Voldemort, because there would've been no explaining that away. She'd had to have succeeded in obliviating him or killing Tom, or end up eventually being murdered by him. She was lucky her clever thinking had come up with the perfect answer, to why she'd been pretending to be so rubbish at magically fighting the dark lord. And Legillimency was such a God send because Tom used it like a truth teller, too blind to know that what you see isn't always what it is, and even if it were true, the reason might not be what someone was saying.
Everything had worked out for the best. Actually, probably more than that, because Tom most likely now thought was more afraid of him than he'd initially imagined, since her purposefully not drawing her wand was new news to him. Even better for her and her plan. But it'd been stupid of her to want to fight him for some time before losing, when she should've let him win a lot sooner. She was lucky this time, but no way was she letting her ego tempt her again, especially when being traumatised from war made her lose control.
Hermione scrunched her eyes shut, and curled into a ball. No, she would not think of all those dark and painful memories.

After a few minutes of being still with her mind blank, Hermione freshened herself up before leaving her room. After a few hours, her belly was full of dinner and she was ready for bed. Soon, she was lying on her mattress with her duvet covering her. After closing her eyes for a few seconds, Hermione snapped them open and uncovered her hands. Damn it, her neck was itching. She vigorously scratched the spot with her fingers, then the witch tried to go back to sleep, but it wasn't very long before her eyes were open again. There was a troubled look on her face, as she recalled a memory of a different sensation on her neck. She'd liked-no-yes, she'd liked the feeling. How could she-so what if she did? Anything or anyone putting pressure on that spot, would probably give her the same sensation, unfortunate it'd unintentionally been the dark lord at that time, but it wasn't because it was personally him. Plus, Tom would die in the end, so did it even matter if she used him a little? Nothing could make her give up killing Voldemort, and as long as she succeeded in her mission, everything else was irrelevant. Yes, and there was no need for her to feel that guilty. Voldemort had taken all the joy out of her life, and if she could use Tom to feel a little happy, that couldn't be wrong. Especially, when he was going to end up a corpse, either way.
Hermione closed her eyes once again, then she tossed and turned a few times, before falling into a dreamless sleep.

In the morning the head girl ate her breakfast with an almost guilty look, while scratching her neck that wasn't itching. What she'd thought last night, her mind had been muddled from tiredness, right? Hermione forced away her fingers, that'd been resting on her collar bone, and used them to drink some orange juice. She was clear minded now and re-thinking things, Voldemort used and manipulated people all the time, so giving him a taste of his own medicine by using him wasn't wrong. He deserved it, and he would die anyway so why not? But for nothing improper, Hermione coughed as the juice in her mouth dribbled into her airway. Eww, why would she even think-? Arrgh, never would that happen, ever. The head girl pulled out a handkerchief and wiped her mouth, then she quickly stuffed it into her pocket as she remembered who it belonged too.

Suddenly, Susan caught her eye before raising an eyebrow with a smile, and Hermione gave her a disapproving look, before gluing her eyes to her plate. She was not looking towards the Slytherin table, to make that crazy girl further convinced of her delusions, and she really did need a Tom free moment.

Hours later, Hermione sat at a table in the library with a quill in her hand. The classes of the day had gone by without any trouble, and if she could finish this transfiguration's homework before bedtime, it'd be a good day indeed. Speaking of transfiguration, the head girl thought as she put her quill down. Gillian Farrow had been substituting that class today, it wasn't like Dumbledore to miss teaching but maybe something important-. A worried look plastered on her face and her fingers paused in the middle of opening an ink pot, as she remembered something. The date today, it was close to the date of Grindelwald's defeat and that meant-. Surely, history would remain as she knew it and Dumbledore would defeat Grindelwald. What if her being here had changed something, it would be all her fault if-. The ink pot suddenly slipped from her fingers, she tried to catch it and missed. But instead of crashing to the floor, the pot rose back into the air and she looked puzzled for a second, before locating the magic's source. It was the young dark lord, his wand was drawn and he standing near her right side. He wordlessly placed the glass pot near her quill, then he sat down at a table close to her and opened his bag.
"Thank you" Hermione said, looking towards him.
"You're welcome" Tom voiced, with a curt nod of his head. But he seemed too busy to look at her, as he was turning the pages of a book with one hand, while pulling out parchments and quills with the other.
The head girl faced forward again, and this time she successfully dipped her writing instrument into ink. Then her hand hovered over her parchment, as she thought again about the dark lord Grindelwald, will Dumbledore-yes, everything should be fine. She was worrying for no reason, because she'd done nothing that could change that part of history. Hermione took a deep breath before writing a sentence, then she glanced at Tom and he seemed very busy, and soon she was too.
After almost half an hour the bushy haired witch put her quill down. Deciding to take a break, she stretched her hands and legs while looking to her right. The dark lord was kind of doing the same as her, he was eating his golden apple with one hand and writing with the other. Suddenly, he locked eyes with her and she blinked, startled. For a few seconds they stared at each other, Hermione was about to look away when he held the apple towards her, and her eyes slightly widened in disbelief.
What the-was he really offering her the fruit again? Why the hell-? Didn't matter, he was starting to look annoyed and she didn't want to make him angry. Besides, she'd eaten it before so it was no big deal. Hermione reached out with a slightly shaky hand and making sure not to touch him, she took the apple that was whole again. Without looking at him, she bit into the gold skinned fruit feeling a little nervous, as from the corner of her eyes she could tell Tom was watching her.
Once she was chewing on apple flesh, she felt a lot more relaxed. She hadn't realised how hungry and thirsty all that writing had made her, and this juicy sweet fruit was the perfect refreshment. Seconds later, the apple became whole again and she reluctantly held it up towards the dark lord. He took it back without any skin contact and still keeping his eyes on her, he sank his teeth into the fruit. An uneasy feeling suddenly pooled in her stomach, his staring was nothing unusual so what the hell was wrong with her? Maybe she was really hungry and wanted more. As if he'd read her mind, the heir of Slytherin materialised a hovering plate between their tables and placed the golden fruit on it. The bushy haired witch took a deep breath and tried not to look panicked. Did he really-no, impossible. She could definitely shield her mind from him, otherwise he would've known she was planning to kill him.
Then, what was this? A coincidence that's all, so-erm-was he really inviting her to share the apple while they remained in the library? As if on cue, Tom looked away from a textbook and caught her eyes, before raising an eyebrow and then he glanced at the floating plate. In seconds he was back to reading his book, and she hesitated for a moment before picking up the fruit. She didn't want to displease him and she did want more of the apple, so no point thinking too much.
Hermione greedily took two chunks out of the fruit and when it restored itself, she put it back on the levitating plate. Blink of an eye later, Tom's long fingers reached for the apple and soon she heard a mild crunching sound. The head girl tried to ignore the possibility that his mouth was on the same thing her lips had been on, did the same apple flesh re-materialise or did it re-grow brand new? Arrgh-no more thinking about that. Not like she had a choice anyway, she had to eat it so the dark lord didn't get mad at her, and she was kind of enjoying it too. Therefore, best to carry on using him to eat the re-generating fruit. Almost an hour passed while Hermione read paragraphs, wrote sentences in blue ink and continuously shared with Tom his re-growing golden apple.

Shortly afterwards, they packed in silence and walked back together to the heads quarters. When the dark lord held open the door to the common room, her pulse quickened and as she forced herself to walk inside, a worried expression appeared on her face. Oh God, what had she done wrong? After shutting the door, he stared at her and she stared back with a racing heart.
"Goodnight," Tom suddenly said, and she almost jumped before processing the meaning of his words. Merlin, thank heavens there wouldn't be an interrogation.
"Goodnight," the head girl voiced with a relieved expression. "And thank you for the apple," she added in a rushed voice, in case he got mad at her for not voicing her gratitude for the so called privilege of sharing his fruit.
"You're welcome," the heir of Slytherin said before turning towards the stairs, and soon she did the same.

Hermione entered her room seconds after Tom had disappeared into his, and after a while she got into bed wearing her nightclothes. Then bushy haired witch stared into the darkness with a peaceful look, she'd finished the transfiguration homework and used the dark lord to eat something delicious, while keeping him calm so it'd been a good day indeed. Suddenly, she recalled being in the library earlier and she couldn't help smile. If someone in her time had told her, she'd one day share an apple with Voldemort and be happy about it, she'd have labelled them insane. The saying truth can be stranger than fiction, really was true when it came to her life. The bushy haired witch yawned before closing her eyes, and soon she drifted off to sleep.

Hours after the sun had come up, Hermione was staring at her cauldron in the potions classroom with an impatient look. Wednesday morning was going well for her so far, Tom was calm and lunchtime was near. If only time would speed up so she could get to the great hall, she was really hungry and she felt like running out the door now. After fidgeting for a few minutes, the Ravenclaw head girl glanced at her wristwatch and made a face. Bloody Merlin, there was still five minutes left.
When class was finally over the bushy haired witch was prepared to be the first person to leave, but professor Slughorn interfered by calling her and Tom to his desk. Damn it, he'd already given them an outstanding so what did he-had she done something-? Surely she couldn't be in trouble, Hermione thought with a slightly irritated look as she walked to the front of the classroom. Seconds later, she and the dark lord were standing in front the professor.
"You're not in trouble," Slughorn said with a smile. "Have you two got any plans for Saturday,?" he asked in a low voice with a mischievous look, and Hermione's eyes widened in disbelief while Tom remained emotionless.
"I don't have any plans, professor." the head girl said coldly. "But my colleague Riddle might," she added, emphasising colleague.
"O ho, I hope not my boy" Slughorn said, shaking his head and appearing oblivious to her frostiness.
"Nothing important, sir." Tom said with a smile.
"Excellent," the professor said loudly, bringing his hands together. "Because you two are attending the ministry's annual awards event this Saturday," Hermione looked at Slughorn like he'd grown two heads, and the dark lord was no longer smiling.
"Sir, I don't think-" Tom started.
"You'll enjoy it," the professor interrupted, dismissively waving his hand. "Forgive me my boy, but attendance isn't optional." he added with a slightly guilty expression. "Dippet has selected you and Granger to represent the students of Hogwarts, and to collect any awards on their behalf." Slughorn continued, pulling out an envelope from his pocket. "Tickets with your names arrived this morning," he said, opening the paper rectangle before pulling out two golden cards. The text and pictures on it were continuously shifting or disappearing and re-appearing. But her and Tom's names were constant and un-changing. Oh God, why was this happening? Was this some cruel joke from fate? "Best if I give them to you on the day," Slughorn voiced, placing the tickets inside the envelope. "Would be troublesome if they got lost," he added, putting the paper rectangle back in his pocket.
"Professor, I've only been here a few months. I don't think I'm the best person to-" Hermione started, feeling hopeful.
"You're head girl, Dippet obviously thought that's enough to qualify." Slughorn said, interrupting and a stony expression appeared on her face. "It starts at six in the evening, we will all be flooing there at 5.30 from the staff room." he added, getting to his feet. "You are to dress in formal wear and don't be late."

"Of course, sir." the heir of Slytherin said mechanically.
"Why do you two look so glum?" Slughorn said, shaking his head. "It's actually a grand party with the presentation of a few awards," he added in a loud voice, making dancing gestures with his hands. "Society's finest will be in attendance, there will be music and dancing." he continued with a smile, as he lowered his hands. Now more than ever, Hermione didn't want to go. Society's finniest was nothing to be excited about, it meant the event would be filled with snobs and blood prejudiced witches and wizards. She wouldn't fit in and neither would Tom, being half blood and poor. And Slughorn's view that all teenagers loved parties was very wrong, she and the dark lord were definitely not the partying type. "Good food and drinks will be provided too." the professor said, patting his stomach. "You two aren't meant to have anything alcoholic, but one couldn't hurt." he finished in a low voice, before winking. Hermione's grim expression still remained unchanged, and the dark lord continued to appear like an emotionless doll. Alcohol wasn't her thing either, and she doubted it was Tom's since he didn't seem excited in the slightest. "If it all isn't to your taste, after the awards you could visit the gardens which are almost private." Slughorn said with a huge smile, and Hermione's eyes widened while the dark lord appeared uncomfortable.
"I don't think that would be a good idea at this time of the year, sir." Tom said, looking expressionless again. "The event inside sounds lovely," he added, emphasising inside. "I look forward to it,"
"O ho, that's the spirit my boy." Slughorn said in a loud voice, before stretching his arm with the intention of patting the dark lord's shoulder, and Tom shrank out his reach by faking a cough. "Cheer up, Miss Granger." the professor said, lowering his hand. "You have nothing to worry about, I'm sure you know by now that Tom's a gentlemen." Slughorn added with a smile that seemed to have a hidden meaning.
"I know as much as you know, sir." Hermione said, trying not to sound angry. "Riddle is an outstanding and model student." she added in a much calmer voice.
"Thank you, Granger." Tom voiced, curtly bowing his head.
"You're welcome," she said, slightly dipping her head in return. "I'm happy for the opportunity to attend such a prestigious event," Hermione continued, forcing a smile on her face as she looked at Slughorn again.
"O ho, I'm glad you've warmed up." the professor said with a toothy smile. "We'll have a jolly good time," he added with a clap. "Especially if you two win the young potions master of the year," he continued with a greedy look, and Hermione remembered that Slughorn had said he'd enter their names for a potion they'd made in class. A second later she sharply looked at the dark lord, fearing he'd appear angry but he looked the opposite. Tom had done all the work, he alone deserved that award if they won. Maybe he wasn't so bothered cause he had a lot of awards already, or he was calm enough to see it was all Slughorn's doing and she wasn't at fault.
"I hope so, sir." Tom said with a smile.
"You will win my boy, I'm sure of it." Slughorn said, flicking his wand towards the door and it sprang open. "You two must be hungry, off you go." he added, waving his hand towards the exit.
"Professor," the dark lord said, sharply nodding his head before turning around. The bushy haired witch curtly bowed her head too, and then she followed Tom. "After you," the dark lord said, pausing near the door and she could almost feel Slughorn's big smile on her back.
"Thank you," Hermione said feeling annoyed before stepping out the room.

Then she and Tom walked down the corridor in silence. She wasn't happy about going to this stupid, useless event, and the dark lord's reaction gave away he wasn't too. When they approached the doors of the great hall, Hermione tensed and then she decided to throw all caution to the wind. As she entered inside with Tom, numerous whispers filled the room and she got a lot of mixed looks and stares, that ranged from shock, hatred, jealousy, disbelief and even curiosity. There really was no point bothering with separate entry, since the students and professors all falsely thought they were secretly together anyway.
"It's not like that" Hermione said loudly before Susan could say anything. As she filled her belly with food she'd been craving, Hermione tried to ignore the nonsense the girl was vocalising. When her plate was empty, the bushy haired witch looked towards the Slytherin table. Tom didn't appear bothered by any rumours or looks, as he was eating and reading at the same time with a relaxed expression. Suddenly, the dark lord looked at her and she held his gaze for a while before grabbing a goblet. As she drunk water, Hermione heard fresh whispers and they seemed less than before. Good, that meant everyone was getting over their delusions, right? Must be, had to be, she thought filling her goblet once again and this time she spilled some water.

In the evening, Hermione sat in the Ravenclaw common room with a regretful expression. Merlin, why had she thought it was a good idea at the time? She should have just gone to her room with the library books, instead of getting manipulated by Susan to come here. A chorus of high pitch laugher assaulted her ears once again and she forced herself to smile, when she really wanted to tell Susan's friends to shut up.
"What's inside?" Haley said, pointing at a box Morgana had just brought down.
"I know," Susan voiced in an excited tone. "Your ball gown,"
"Really?" Stacey said, moving closer to Morgana.
"Show us," Kirsten said pointing her finger.
"What do you think?" Morgana said, pulling out a red satin dress from the box.
"It's beautiful," Haley said, touching it.
"I like Susan's better though," Morgana said with a disappointed expression.
"Your one's better," Susan said, shaking her head. "I should've gotten red instead of black,"
"They're both good," Stacey said and Kirsten nodded her head in agreement.
"You two better not be lying to make me feel better," Susan voiced, cutting her eyes.
"Do I ever want anything that's not good?" Morgana said, running a hand through her hair.
"If it has her approval it's good, swear to Merlin." Haley said, putting a hand over her heart.
"Everyone's is good, or at least not so ugly that you can't be seen in it." Kirsten voiced with a toothy smile, and girly laughter filled the room again.
"Actually, we've missed someone." Susan said, facing Hermione and the bushy haired witch blinked confused.
"Show us what you're going to wear," Haley asked the head girl with an excited expression.
"Wear?" Hermione said in a questioning tone. "Why would I-?" she trailed off as she realised what they were all talking about.
"The Christmas ball this Friday, Maya." Susan said, rolling her eyes. "Remember all the classes are cancelled that day," the girl said, tapping her on the head. "And it's your duty as head girl to attend and help supervise us," she added, pointing her finger.
"Oh-erm-yes." Hermione said slowly with a moody expression. Fuck, another useless event that she was being forced to go to.
"Go get your dress then," Susan said with an eager expression. Arrgh, she didn't know so how could she show it.
"Maybe she wants to keep it a secret," Kirsten said, raising an eyebrow.
"Or someone dear to her is gifting the dress," Morgana said in a low voice, and an annoyed expression showed on the head girl's face as all the girls laughed again.
"I'm not trying to be mean," Stacey started with sympathetic look. "But it's common knowledge that he isn't rich, so you should have a back up dress."
"Riddle and I are not-" Hermione started hotly.
"You said it's Riddle, Stacey didn't name him." Kirsten said accusingly.
"Let her keep the worst kept secret," Morgana whispered before all the girls burst out laughing.
"It's not true," Hermione said, jumping to her feet.
"Calm down, Maya." Susan said, holding up her hands. "We're just joking around," she added, looking towards her friends with a stern expression, and Stacey and Morgana whispered something, while Kirsten and Haley shared looks of disbelief.
"Those rumours aren't true," Hermione said emphasising rumours. "And a poor person's gift would mean just as much to me as a rich person's," she added in a defensive tone.
"Of course," Susan said with a smile while her friends whispered amongst themselves. "So can we see this gift-erm-dress?" the girl added with a curious expression, and there was muffled laughter from her friends while the head girl gave her an irritated look, as she hadn't missed Susan saying gift.
"I don't have a dress yet," Hermione said coldly.
"What?" Susan said with a disbelieving expression. "You know Friday's the day after tomorrow," Bloody Merlin, it sounded a hell of a lot sooner when worded like that.
"I have dresses that aren't to my taste," the head girl said, thinking about the sleeveless dresses Dippet's elf had brought her. "Merlin, I don't know." Hermione said with a sudden stressed appearance. "Do you have a decent one I can borrow?"
"Sorry, Maya. They're all sleeveless," Susan said, looking slightly guilty. "Unless you want to-"
"I'll just pin a shawl to one of mine," Hermione interrupted with a careless look.
"You can't," Susan almost shouted with a shocked appearance.
"Unless you're going for the grandma look" Morgana said, and a chorus of girly laughter followed.
"I won't allow it," Susan said, shaking her head. "I'll find you something,"
"My cousin has designer dresses, I can ask-" Haley started.
"Designer, I wouldn't use that word." Morgana said, flicking her hair. "It's unfortunate but your cousin isn't exactly to our standards," she added snobbishly, and Hermione creased her forehead in annoyance. So what if Haley's cousin was poorer than them, and if her designer wasn't a well known big shot as their's?
"I'm only suggesting it because they're similar in type, taste and modesty." Haley said defensively.
"She's right, they are the same." Kirsten said, shaking her head.
"So it wouldn't be offensive," Stacey added.
"Or I could try Eileen in Gryffindor, she has the wizarding world's best-" Susan started.
"Haley's cousin is fine," Hermione cut in. "I don't care what kind of designer she has," she added, giving Susan's friends a disapproving look. "The dress just has to be long with sleeves,"
"Don't worry, she has lots of those." Haley said with a smile.
"Thank you, and tell her I'm grateful if she lends me one." Hermione said, returning the smile.
"She will, she loves helping other students." Haley voiced, nodding her head.
"We all know why," Morgana said with a smile that didn't look friendly.
"Connections is what you need if you're-" Stacey started.
"Enough," Susan said, raising her hands. "Maya doesn't mind borrowing a dress from Haley's cousin, so end of discussion." Wow, except Haley and Susan the other girl's were really snobbish.
"It's getting late," Hermione said, gathering her books. "Thanks- I mean thank you again for helping with the dress, Haley." the head girl voiced, moving towards the door. "And you Susan," she said, pausing and smiling at the girl. "Everyone else too," she added reluctantly.
"You're welcome," Haley said while the other girls gave her stiff nods with their heads.
"Happy to help," Susan said with a wide smile. "Stay longer, me and the girls are going to-"
"Can't," Hermione cut in. "Got reading to do," she added, gesturing at her hardback texts.
"Wish you goodnight then," the girl said with a disappointed look.
"Goodnight to you too," the bushy haired witch said before waving goodbye to the other girls, and then she stepped out of the Ravenclaw common room.

Silence met her ears as she walked down the corridor, and Hermione was glad for it. After awhile she paused appearing breathless, and then she cast a spell to reduce the weight of the books before continuing forward. Why the hell hadn't she thought of that spell until now? Would've eased her burden of carrying hardbacks in the past. Stress must've made her forget, or her subconscious had made her think it's no big deal due to her muggle beginning. Either way she was sure she'd remember next time, she had to. Maybe if she'd used it last time, it would've lessened the chance of her accidently burning Tom's flowers and she wouldn't have gotten crucioed. A shiver went down Hermione's spine as the painful memory bled into her mind, and she momentarily closed her eyes while trying to block it. What if the dark lord was there again? She tightened the hold on her books, and the speed she was walking at slowed without the head girl realising. Hopefully he wouldn't be there, if he was then she definitely wasn't getting on his wrong side.

Some time later Hermione entered the heads common room. As her eyes found Tom sitting on the green armchair with his eyes towards the fireplace, her pulse quickened and she almost ran towards the stairs. Suddenly, the weight reducing spell lost its power. She tried to refresh the magic, but the angle she was holding the books at caused them to fall faster. Multiple thudding sounds filled the air as the hardbacks met the stone floor, and Hermione's heart painfully lurched as the dark lord's head snapped in her direction. Oh God, he looked angry. Hermione was about to apologise when his expression went blank and as he pointed his wand, she froze with a fearful expression. Christ, he was going to crucio her. "Please, I didn't mean-" the head girl started in a wavering voice.
"I am not going to hurt you," the dark lord cut in, slightly tilting his head to the left. "Goodnight," he added, waving his wand towards the floor and Hermione couldn't help jump. But she remained unharmed while the books flew up to her door before stacking into a neat pile, causing the head girl to blink a few times and everything still remained the same

"Thank you," the bushy haired witch said, looking and feeling relieved.
"You're welcome," Tom voiced, lowering his wand.
"Goodnight," Hermione said feeling uneasy again as he stared at her unblinking, then she turned around and moved towards her room as fast as she could without running.
Soon Hermione was inside her chamber drinking a goblet of water and taking deep breaths. Thank God he hadn't crucioed her like last time. Then again, she hadn't done anything to make him really angry. True, all due to luck. And she'd luckily managed to unintentionally use him for levitating her books, Hermione smiled as she recalled the memory. Soon she was in a positive mood and after a few minutes, the head girl was sitting at her desk wearing nightclothes while her eyes were glued to an open textbook. After she'd yawned many times and when her eyelids started to drop, Hermione decided to go to bed.

A minute after she'd settled on her mattress, her thoughts drifted to the dark lord levitating her books. What was the secret to levitating multiple things at the same time? She'd tried many times and failed, he'd probably crucio her if she asked for a lesson. Speaking of teaching, hadn't Voldemort wanted to be a hogwarts DADA professor? Yes and Dumbledore had prevented him. Why did he-? Hermione suddenly remembered something, when she'd gotten confused after facing the boggart that day, Tom had said we are at Hogwarts, our home. Which meant he saw Hogwarts as his home, just like Harry had. In seconds her eyes moistened and she rapidly blinked, attempting to forget the wizard with the lightning bolt scar. Voldemort was an emotionless psycho, house must mean something different to him than it meant to normal people. Most likely a place that can house not just him, but also his interests and ambitions. His reasons to return to Hogwarts had to have involved evil plans, why else would Dumbledore prevent him? Great thing he hadn't gotten his way. She'd do an even greater thing, by making sure he never became the great but terrible dark lord. Hermione readjusted her pillow and turned on her side. After a few seconds of staring into darkness, her thoughts drifted back to Tom again. If he'd been normal, he would've made an excellent DADA professor. Maybe if she called him professor Riddle, he'd teach her the magic to levitating multiples. Seconds later Hermione laughed out loud. Merlin, what was she thinking? She must be really tired and losing her mind due to it. Calling Tom professor Riddle definitely wouldn't get her a lesson but most likely a crucio session, with him asking how she knew of his plan to be a Hogwarts professor. Not that she'd actually ever do it, she did not have a death wish. The bushy haired witch yawned before pulling the covers up to her neck, then she closed her eyes and within a minute she fell asleep.

Hermione's Thursday morning and afternoon passed peacefully. At 6 pm she was in the great hall with Tom, Longbottom and Bones. They were all decorating the place for tomorrow's Christmas ball by following the dark lord's instructions, and she hadn't objected in the slightest to his dictatorship. Which is most likely why they were working together as a great team, that were not only efficient but also enjoying themselves, by silently competing against each other on how fast they could finish their part of the wall.
Hermione and Tom were both ahead. When it looked like he would win, she jumped to reach the last bit of her wall and finished at the same time as him. The pleased look on her face disappeared, as icy coldness gripped her wand hand and she realised her earlier loss of control over her magic, had led to snow covered fingertips. The dark lord raised his hands to show there was nothing wrong with his, then he half smiled to say he'd won because of that. The bushy haired witch glanced towards the wall, then she raised an eyebrow to show she disagreed, because it was all about decorating with perfection and speed. The heir of Slytherin narrowed his eyes with an expression that said he was thinking about it, then he slightly bowed his head to indicate he finally agreed they were both winners. She gave him a quick smile, before breaking eye contact with a satisfied expression and as she returned her fingers to normal, the head master and a group of professors entered the great hall.

While Dippet praised Tom, Beery caught Hermione's eye and smiled before slightly bowing his head, she returned the curt nod and then she pretended to look for something in her bag. When the young professor and Farrow appeared engaged in a whispered conversation, the bushy haired witch breathed out in relief. Merlin, she didn't want any trouble. Everything was good and she wanted the day to end that way. After the professors relieved the head girls and boys of their duty and took over decorating, the students left the great hall.

As Hermione walked down the corridor with the other heads, she felt glad to be away from Beery. It wasn't long before Longbottom and Bones drew closer to each other, and started having a quiet conversation. The dark lord and her continued to walk side by side, but with an arm's length of distance between them. As they approached the stairs, Susan suddenly came into view with a medium sized box and two books in her hands.
"Maya," the girl called, and Hermione broke away from the group of heads to join her. A few minutes later, the bushy haired witch was alone and resumed her journey towards the head's quarters. But this time her hands were full with a silver box, that Susan had said contained her dress for the ball, and two books on runes which she hadn't been able to find at the library.

After awhile Hermione arrived at the heads quarters. Hoping Tom wasn't in the common room, she walked inside to find him in front of the fire place with his back towards her. Oh crap, he hated seeing her carry lots of things the muggle way. His reaction hadn't been so bad yesterday, but it wasn't a good idea to push her luck. The dark lord was crazy, depending on his mood he could be mildly annoyed one day and torturous the next. Tom seemed busy with his insane fire staring thing, if she got to her room quickly he probably wouldn't even notice. When the head girl was close to the staircase, she had a sudden urge to sneeze. She desperately tried not to, but her body forced the involuntary sound and air from her. To make things worse, the books she'd been balancing on the box had fallen with loud thuds. A second later, the dark lord's head snapped in her direction and her heart painfully lurched. Oh God, he looked angry.
"Sorry," Hermione said in a low voice with a fearful look, while digging her nails into the box.
"Put that down," he said, turning his body towards her. She blinked a few times, not sure if she'd heard right. "Now," Tom ordered and she flinched before dropping the silver box. As the sound of it crashing to the ground echoed through the room, the dark lord speedily drew his wand and her eyes widened. "Come here," he commanded, gesturing at a spot near the fireplace.
"Please, I didn't mean to-" the head girl started in a wavering voice.
"Come here," Tom repeated, interrupting her. Blink of an eye later, the bushy haired witch forced herself to move forward as her heart raced.
"I'm sorry" Hermione said, almost whispering when she arrived at her destination.
"Take out your wand," the heir of Slytherin ordered, and disbelief mixed into her fearful expression. Did he want her wand before crucioing her, or did he want to magically fight her before torturing her?
"Please don't, I'm sorry." she said in a trembling voice, praying he'd change his mind. The dark lord stared at her, causing her heart to beat even faster and she suddenly realised he didn't look angry. His face was emotionless and as a few more seconds passed, a questioning expression with something else she couldn't label started to develop.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Tom suddenly said in soft voice, and a look of disbelief slowly took hold of her face. "Forgive me, it wasn't my intention to frighten you." he added, lowering his gaze and Hermione's eyes slightly widened. The words forgive me replayed in her mind, as she stared at him with mistrust and fear. Did he actually just bloody apologise? What sort of twisted game was he playing? "Constantly witnessing you carrying several items like a muggle is very annoying," the dark lord said, making and un-making his hands into fists.
"I'm really sorry," the head girl said in a rushed voice, taking a step back with a cautious expression.
"I know it's not deliberate," the heir of Slytherin said, looking at her again and she momentarily held her breath. "That it's due to your magical limitation," the dark lord added, taking a step towards her and she couldn't help flinch. "You can be really stupid," he continued, raising an eyebrow and she tried not to appear hurt in the slightest, but a hint of it found its way to her face. "But you're also the most intelligent student I've ever met," the Slytherin head boy said with a slightly pensive look, and the bushy haired witch developed a confused expression. "I see no reason why you can't learn," he added, creasing his brows and she crossed her arms with a scared appearance. Was he accusing her of not deliberately learning despite having the intelligence? Must be and crucio was next.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't-" she started, apologetically with a pleading look.
"I'll teach you," Tom said, interrupting and Hermione's eyes widened. Bloody Merlin, had she heard right? "Take out your wand," he ordered again, and she remained unmoving with a cautious expression. Was he fucking serious? "Now, Granger," the dark lord commanded in a louder voice and her shoulders slightly jumped, before she closed her fingers around her magical stick, but it was more to feel safe than to obey. "Did I say hold onto it?" the Slytherin head boy said, sounding impatient after she'd been still for a few seconds, and Hermione rapidly blinked as she snapped out of her frozen state. "What part of bring it out didn't you understand?" Tom shouted, pointing his wand with an angry expression. The bushy haired witch flinched and gasped in fear, while she hastily drew her wand. Then as she held up the magical stick, her hand trembled and her heart was rapidly beating.
"Granger, I-" the dark lord started, with all trace of anger gone from his face and she momentarily held her breath. "I'm highly impatient today," he added, slightly lowering his wand. "I hope you can excuse my un-pleasant behaviour," Tom continued, turning his face away from her and Hermione's expression reflected disbelief once again. Christ, was he saying he was sorry for shouting at her? This had to be some psycho mind fuck plan, or a dark spell side affect had made him go soft in the head for today.

Suddenly, the heir of Slytherin looked at her again and she tried to keep her expression blank, but un-certainty and fear cracked through. "I won't use the cruciatus curse," he said, looking at the floor and Hermione couldn't help appear more scared. Holy mother Mary, what the-he'd lost his fucking marbles, or this was some sick elaborate mind game. "You have my word," Tom voiced, looking her right in the eye and she almost dropped her wand, as an alarmed expression plastered on her face. Merlin, he'd sounded and looked so sincere. Oh, God. What had she gotten herself into? The head girl stared without blinking as the feeling of being a prey set in, and her wand holding hand was now shaking badly. "Would you like a moment to calm yourself?" the dark lord suddenly asked, sounding impatient and her shoulders jumped while she rapidly blinked. Merlin, he was getting irritated. Whatever the fuck this was, she had to snap out of her fearful state and go along with it, before she made him really angry because there was no other choice.
"It's okay," Hermione finally replied in a weak voice before taking a deep breath. "I'm fine," she added, sounding more confident as she forced her wand hand to still. The heir of Slytherin stared at her with a blank expression, and she managed to look calm but her heart was racing. Tom suddenly slightly half smiled, like he knew she was putting on a brave front and he kind of admired that about her.
"Then let us begin" the dark lord said, effortlessly summoning a cushion. Seconds later, he tore the covering in the middle with magic and she couldn't help the alarmed look on her face. "Conjured objects are temporary constructs forced into existence by magic," Tom said, pulling out a fistful of feathers from the tear. "For the inexperienced, casting magic on something magical is difficult" he added, positioning his wand above his closed hand and understanding the meaning of his words, Hermione calmed a little. Thank Merlin, he wasn't ripping things to just be extra evil and scary. "Objects that are both natural and light should be used by beginners," the dark lord added, before moving his magical stick in a swish and flick motion. Almost instantly, all the feathers in his hand rose into the air before levitating. "Try to do the same," he said, pointing at the torn cushion.

Seconds later, the bushy haired witch was holding up a fistful of feathers with a tense expression. When she did the same spell as Tom, one feather flew up and as the rest fell to the floor, she couldn't help look ashamed. It was stupid, he already knew she wasn't capable and he hadn't taught her anything yet. Still, that knowledge did nothing to change the way she felt. Even when the dark lord's expression wasn't judgemental, it was blank. "Pull the feather closer to you while keeping it in the air," Tom said, making all his ones hover over his hand. The head girl easily achieved that but knowing this meant nothing, kept the look on her face un-changed. "Push it away from you," he added and she instantly managed that too. "Pull and push it towards you a few times," as the bushy haired witch obeyed, a wondering expression crept on her face. "Repeat that while focusing on the energy between you and the feather," the dark lord instructed, moving a little towards her. "Recast the spell at the same time," the head boy added, when she was about to move the feather back and forth again.
"Same time," she said with a lost expression. Wasn't there only one thing, hadn't he said focus on the spell?
"Yes," he said, nodding his head. "Focus on the force between you and the object, while refreshing the spell" What the-? What did he mean?
"Do you mean focus on the spell?" Hermione asked in a low controlled voice.
"Then I would've said that," Tom said in a slightly irritated tone. "Focus on the energy you feel between the feather and your hand," What? She couldn't bloody feel anything, she'd never heard of such a thing.
"Now, Granger." he said, raising his voice after she'd been still for a few seconds with a lost expression.
"I-erm-I-d-don't feel anything," she stuttered in an almost whispering voice. An expression of disbelief appeared on the dark lord's face, and seconds later he looked angry.
"Then wake up your entire brain and concentrate." he almost shouted, pointing his wand threateningly and her shoulders slightly jumped. Merlin, he thought it was because she wasn't taking this seriously.
"I m-mean I've n-never ever felt anything," Hermione stuttered in a rushed voice with a fearful look, and young Voldemort lowered his wand hand with a shocked expression.
"When you use magic, you don't feel its force and energy pouring from your body into the wand." Tom said in a tone of disbelief as he moved closer to her. "Is that correct?" he added, with a hint of curiosity in his voice this time.
"Yes," Hermione said avoiding his eyes, and the feeling of being small crashed over her. Was something wrong with her? If what he was saying was true, then was it only her that couldn't-? No, Harry, Ron or someone from her time would've mentioned this energy thing during spell casting. She wasn't the odd one out, it was him.
"Look at me," the Slytherin said, taking another step closer and as she obeyed she emptied her mind. "Repeat what you said," he ordered, looking her in the eye.
"Yes," Hermione said again, allowing him to detect the truth from her mind, while blocking that she thought he was alone in this energy thing. Without warning, he took a step back and his expression was questioning. Seconds later, it went blank and then he looked knowing, like he'd come to a conclusion he was sure of.
"Without magic coming from you, your wand would be useless," the dark lord said, putting his eyes on her magical stick. "Otherwise, simply holding a wand would've made muggles, witches and wizards." he added with an icy voice, and being used to his hatred of muggles she didn't react to the coldness in the slightest. Instead, the head girl wondered how this had anything to do with her so called inability. "You're a witch," Tom said, like he was stating a fact and she couldn't help feel a little offended.

Of course she was, a squib wouldn't be able to do what she could. "I have seen too much of your magic to doubt that," he added and she momentarily held her breath. Did he just-no. He couldn't have read her mind when she was occluding it, he'd logically elaborated on why he thought she was magical. "Your struggle in keeping an open mind," Tom continued, raising an eyebrow and she almost gave him a dirty look, knowing he was referring to her disbelief in hocus pocus of divination. "And parentage," he added softly, breaking eye contact with her, and Hermione couldn't help the hateful look on her face. Was he bloody saying she didn't have the ability because she wasn't pureblood? That was all bullshit, especially coming from Mr half blood who'd deluded himself to think he was pureblood. There wasn't any magic that muggleborns couldn't do that purebloods could, if he couldn't teach her then he was just an incapable teacher. "I believe it is making you lack sensitivity to detecting your own magic," the dark lord said, looking into her eyes again and she forced a blank expression on her face. "There is nothing wrong with your magic or my instructions," Tom added in a slightly raised voice and Hermione's eyes widened a little, as she realised she hadn't been fast enough in making her face emotionless. "The process will be more time consuming, as I have to first find a way for you to feel your magic," the dark lord added, sounding and looking displeased.
"Sorry," Hermione said in a low voice, maybe she shouldn't have judged him too quickly. But if he saw it from her point of view, he could hardly blame her.
"Challenges can be interesting," the dark lord said in a much warmer tone, as he slightly tilted his head a little to the left, and then he stared at her for a few seconds with a blank expression, and his calm demeanour caused her to relax. "Levitate the feather again," Tom said un-tilting his head and Hermione instantly obeyed. "The magical force connecting you and your wand, try to feel it in the palm of your wand hand" the heir of Slytherin instructed, moving a little closer to her. The bushy haired witch tried to detect it but her magical stick was all she could feel. What was she supposed to-how would she know-? "It usually feels like a magnetic force or running water," he said, as if on cue.

Hermione focused again and after almost a minute, she hadn't discovered anything like he'd said. "Erm-I still don't-" she started with an apologetic look.

"You need more time," the dark lord interrupted with a dismissive tone. "Concentrate," he added, in a slightly raised voice. The bushy haired witch put all her attention into feeling magic, but after some time of patiently staring and focusing, she had yet to feel anything.

"I-I still can't-" Hermione said, re-adjusting the hold on her magical stick.

"Let go of any disbelief," Tom said in an impatient tone, while crossing his arms. She was actually trying to feel it, wasn't that as good as not disbelieving? Determined to succeed, the bushy haired witch tried again and after awhile there was still nothing. Hermione thinned her lips, re-positioned her wand and attempted once again. After a few more minutes of no result, the head girl wanted to scream. She looked at Tom apologetically and nodded her head to say no, too embarrassed to speak of her continued failure. "Remove all negative thoughts, command your mind to feel the magic in your hand." the dark lord said in a slightly annoyed tone as he crossed and un-crossed his arms.

Easier said than done, she had been doing just that for some time with zero results. Arrgh, what was she doing wrong? For ten minutes the bushy haired witch repeatedly tried to detect magic, with all her willpower but like before she was un-successful. Feeling frustrated, Hermione took a deep breath and as she re-adjusted her hold on her wand again, Tom caught her eyes. He raised an eyebrow with an impatient expression on his face and once more, she nodded her head to say no with a slightly ashamed expression. After some more time her attempts still remained fruitless, and with a frustrated look, she lowered her wand hand as it started to ache. "Still nothing," Tom suddenly said in a slightly taunting tone, un-crossing his arms again.

"Nothing," Hermione answered frostily.

"Are you even trying?" he almost shouted, making his hands into fists. 'Yes, you Naga freak,' Hermione wanted to shout as she took in a sharp intake of breath, while biting the inside of her cheeks. This energy feeling crap was most likely a Naga thing, and she couldn't do it because she didn't have the bloody serpent genes.

"Yes," the head girl finally replied, in a low controlled voice. Vocalising her thought about his Naga blood wasn't an option, unless she wanted to ruin her mission and get herself killed. Arrgh, she didn't have a choice but to continue humiliating herself.

"I shouldn't have spoken so harshly," Tom suddenly said in a soft voice, un-curling his fingers and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing. "For some people it can take hours to learn a new magical technique," he added, appearing completely calm. What the-why was he being so nice? "You just need even more time," the dark lord continued with an understanding expression, and her pulse quickened a little. No way in Merlin's name was this the real him, of course he was acting with a sinister ulterior motive. "The repeated attempts must be tiring," Tom said with his eyes on her hand and she suddenly realised, she'd been un-consciously rubbing her wand hand's wrist. "I think it would be better if you weren't on your feet," the Slytherin added, making an armchair move behind her with a non-verbal spell. "You should sit down," he said, flicking his wand at her. As his magic pushed her down onto the soft furniture, Hermione reflexively raised her hands in a defensive stance with wide eyes.

A second later Tom moved closer to her with an un-readable expression, and she almost pointed her wand at him as her heart rate doubled. He stared at her with a slightly amused expression, and realising he meant no real harm, she lowered her hands while fighting to keep an angry look of her face.

Fucking psycho, she could've sat herself down. But he needlessly scared her just to get a kick out of it, didn't he? Without warning, he touched her forehead with his wand and she flinched while gasping in fright. "Calm yourself," the dark lord said, as he used his magical stick to move away some of her hair, that was nearly covering her left eye. And she couldn't help shiver, even though she knew he wasn't hurting her. It must be psychological fear, had to be. "Rest your wand hand on this," Tom voiced, pulling away the cushion from behind her, and as his action forced Hermione to slump back a little, she couldn't help give him an annoyed look. He placed the square pillow on her lap with an expression that said, he was finding her reaction kind of entertaining, and as she placed her right wrist and forearm on the cushion, Hermione made her face emotionless. Best not to express her real feelings too much, his mood could drastically change in seconds. Even though he was getting on her nerves, a mostly calm but annoying Tom Riddle was preferable, than an angry and violent Tom Riddle. "Being relaxed may help," the dark lord said, taking a step back. "Try again," he added, slightly tilting his head to the left.

Hermione used the wand in her right hand to levitate a feather again, before concentrating on feeling magic once more, and after awhile like before she couldn't achieve a positive result. "Anything" Tom suddenly asked, moving his head to the centre and a stressed expression flashed on her face.

"I don't think so," the head girl vocalised in a low voice, without meeting his eyes.

"Yes or no, Granger." he questioned in a harsh tone, and she momentarily stopped breathing.

"No," Hermione finally said, still not making eye contact.

"Did you really attempt with a calm mind?" Tom said in a raised voice, jabbing his wand into her seat's armrest and her shoulders slightly jumped. After taking a deep breath, the bushy haired witch nodded her head to say yes, while keeping her eyes away from his. "I shouldn't have said that," the dark lord voiced in a sudden calm and quiet tone, as he removed his wand from her armrest. Here we go again, Hermione thought running her left hand through her hair whilst trying to relax, but her body refused to obey. "Let go of all stress and tension," he instructed, taking a few steps back. 'Bloody hard to do when you keep going psycho on me every few minutes,' she wanted to shout as she creased her forehead and tightened the hold on her wand. "Try again," Tom added in a tone that sounded supportive, and after taking a deep breath, she did just that while continuing to avoid his eyes. Everything was silent and still to her as minutes went by, and she wasn't sure how many, only that it was a long time and her hand had yet to touch success. "Any progress," the Slytherin suddenly asked in an almost mechanical voice, and she nearly jumped in her seat before nodding her head to say no. "Are you certain you're approaching this with an open mind, without any trace of disbelief?" he questioned in an annoyed tone.

"Yes," she said, raising her head and forcing herself to look into his eyes, hoping this would convince him to believe her. The dark lord didn't bother with wandless Legilimency, and from his expression he appeared to have taken her words as truth, but the disappointment in his eyes made her heart feel painfully heavy.

What the hell was-? She didn't like failing, that was all it was. Nothing to do with wanting to please him, because it's not like pleasing him brought her any personal pleasure-yuck. What on earth was she-? She liked success and appearing intelligent, that was it and there was nothing more to it. Now, she was looking like a complete idiot in front of him. The bushy haired witch hated that with every fibre of her being, what was she bloody doing wrong? Honestly, she couldn't be any more open minded. "I have done as you instructed," Hermione said, ceasing her levitation spell and letting the feather fall to the floor. "I don't understand why I can't feel it," she added with an expression of self anger and shame.

There was no reply but silence from the heir of Slytherin, as he appeared deep in thought and seconds later, he began to slowly walk around the room with his expression un-changed.

Suddenly, Tom paused in front of a candle and blink of an eye later, he snuffed out its flame with his fingers and Hermione's breath caught in her throat. Oh Merlin, he must be really angry. Without warning, the dark lord faced her and she inhaled sharply in disbelief, as Tom didn't look angry in the slightest. He appeared pleased and she couldn't understand why, which was puzzling and a little more scarier.

"You're distracted," the heir of Slytherin suddenly said, and a startled look mixed with confusion appeared on her face. "I think that's the reason you've remain un-successful," he added, taking a step towards her with an un-readable expression and a fearful look plastered on the witch's face. His accusation wasn't true, she'd been 100% focused.

"No, I've been trying with all my will power." Hermione said in a low voice, shaking her head side to side, while digging her nails into the palm of her hands.

"I don't doubt what you've said," Tom voiced, appearing and sounding calm. Hermione took a deep breath feeling relieved, thank God she wasn't at fault. "I believe you're subconsciously distracted by an external factor," he added, raising an eyebrow. Huh-what on earth was he talking about?

"Oh," Hermione said with an expressionless face, hoping he couldn't tell just how clueless she was.

"So far you've attempted in a silent environment," he said, crossing his arms. "Perhaps light is a distraction," He added, emphasising distraction.

"Light," Hermione said, a little un-certainly. "You're suggesting I try with my eyes closed," she continued, with an expression that said 'are you fucking serious'.

"That would be the easiest way," Tom voiced, rolling his eyes and she resisted giving him a dirty look. Arrgh, she wasn't stupid.

"I know," the head girl said, trying not to sound angry. "Light is a distraction isn't exactly a clear instruction, I only said that for clarification." The witch continued, attempting her best to look emotionless.

"Calm yourself," he said, slightly smiling at her like she was a two year old throwing a tantrum. "Otherwise, you'll have to start right from the beginning." He continued, making his face expressionless. "Even though you haven't achieved anything," the dark lord added, emphasising anything, and Hermione squeezed the cushion under her hands. "Best not to ruin the required mindset," Damn slimy snake, he was the one ruining things by sprouting nonsense. "Prepare yourself," Tom said in a sudden commanding tone and without realising, the head girl sat up straighter. "Close your eyes and try again." He added, slightly moving his head to the left.

She hesitated for a moment as a feeling she couldn't explain came over her, then she forced herself to levitate the feather again before shutting her eyelids. Time passed in almost darkness and silence for her, while her heart raced but her mind was not focused on feeling magic. What was it that was bothering her? Fear, nervousness, mistrust or maybe the latter. Yes, having your eyes closed in the dark lord's presence automatically gave rise to those feelings. But she had to get over it, it's not like she hadn't been blind around him before, and she'd given him no reason to harm her.

After a few minutes, Hermione managed to let go of all fear and negativity, and her mind returned to the task of trying to sense magic. The bushy haired witch gave it her 100% best, but after a lengthy amount of time she failed to emerge victorious. When Hermione finally admitted to herself she'd failed, she allowed herself to wallow in shame and defeat for a few minutes, before snapping her eyes open.

As she took in Tom's extremely annoyed expression, her pulse quickened and she was certain he was suppressing how angry he really was. Was that good? Maybe, maybe not. "Even in darkness you failed," Tom suddenly said in an irritated tone, and it seemed he was talking more to himself than her, as his eyes were on his hands that were fidgeting with his wand.

"Sorry," Hermione said in a low voice with wide eyes. Christ, any second now he was probably going to point his wand and curse her.

"Unless," the dark lord said in a sudden raised voice, looking her in the eye and she couldn't help jump in her seat. The Slytherin creased his brows before glancing down at his magical stick, then he hid his hands behind his back, and the action also removed his wand from her sight. "Unless it wasn't dark enough," Tom continued in a louder volume, and Hermione swallowed feeling relieved. Erm-what had he said? Darkness-err-wasn't enough of it, yes. What the hell did that-? The light in the room, that must be it.

"The room should've been dark," Hermione said, voicing her thought.

"Exactly what I was thinking," the dark lord said, nodding his head. "Light does penetrate through the eyelids," he added, closing his eyes for a moment and she briefly touched her throat, as she felt something that seemed like a tightening sensation around her windpipe. "Reduced light is not the same as being in darkness," The bushy haired witch took a deep breath, what in Merlin's name was wrong with her? "I will remove all sources of light, then you will attempt again." Tom said, bringing his wand into her view once more.

Ah, it was fear. She was just scared of being alone with him in complete darkness, and there was nothing wrong with that because he was Voldemort. As the dark lord raised his magical stick high into the air, Hermione inhaled sharply and a second later, all the curtains on the windows shut themselves, the fireplace went dark and every candle in the room blew out. The head girl thinned her lips and fidgeted with her left hand, as she stared into almost pitch black while trying to make out Tom's form.

"Concentrate, Granger." The heir of Slytherin suddenly said, and her shoulders slightly jumped. Had he said that to encourage her, or was seeing in the dark one of his Naga powers? Might be the latter, she better get started before he got angry.

"Yes," Hermione said, hoping her tone sounded more obedient than hostile. Dense blackness greeted her sight after she closed her eyes and once more, she set all her mind to feeling the magic in her wand hand. After a long amount of time had passed, the head girl's heart was racing and she was too afraid to open her eyes again. She'd been so sure it'd work but despite her best efforts, she'd failed again. Surely, his patience would run out this time and he'd crucio her. No matter what he'd promised, when it was Voldemort there was no guarantee.

"Stop, Granger." She suddenly heard Tom say, and her heart painfully lurched. "If it hasn't worked by now, it's not going to." Her ears heard him voice in a slightly angry tone and she immediately stopped casting the spell, but her grip on her wand tightened.

Without warning, mild light came through her eyelids again. Instead of opening them, Hermione scrunched them shut and leaned as far back as she could into her armchair. "Granger," the head girl jumped in her seat, as he sounded a lot closer to her than before. "Look at me," he added, in a low voice that sounded commanding. Hermione momentarily held her breath before slowly opening her eyes with a fearful expression, and even though he didn't look angry, she still remained scared. "You can be at ease," Tom said in a soft voice. "I won't punish you for failing to succeed," he added, looking down at the floor as he hid his wand on his person. The head girl's eyes widened a little, and she stared at him feeling more scared than ever. He was doing his sinister Mr nice guy act again, why? Must be some serious fucking mind game cause he was Voldemort, or maybe his pleasantness was a reaction to her being cooperative and submissive.

The Slytherin suddenly looked up and as she caught his eye, she blinked, startled. No way, what the hell was she-? It didn't matter, either way she was going to kill him. If there was any benefit to be gained from the dark lord she should just use him and it wasn't wrong cause Voldemort has taken so much from her life. Besides, in the end he would die so making use of him didn't harm her end goal. "I must admit-" Tom started without warning, snapping her out of her thoughts. "-it is highly frustrating," he finished with anger creeping into his voice, and Hermione almost hugged the cushion on her lap with a tense look. "Best not to dwell on that," the dark lord added, in a low voice and it was obvious to her, that he was suppressing how mad he really was.

For almost a minute, the dark lord stared towards the un-lit fireplace, and the bushy haired witch sneaked glances of him, while feeling uneasy. He suddenly looked at her again and her breath caught in her throat, then the witch took a deep breath feeling relieved. The dark lord looked calm and it must be genuine, because of the situation they were in, and his belief that she was weak and inferior to him, meant he wouldn't bother to act relaxed for that long, if he really hadn't let go of his anger.

Surely, she wasn't wrong? No she'd thought right because there possibly couldn't be another reason for him to control his rage, right? "I believe there is a solution," the dark lord suddenly said, without a trace of anger in his voice. "Something is missing," he added, talking more to himself than her as he looked at the ground. "Or has been overlooked," he continued, placing his eyes on the dancing flame of a lit candle. Awhile passed in silence as the dark lord continued to stare ahead, un-moving and Hermione sat still as she watched him. Tom suddenly ran his left hand through his hair, and her eyes immediately became glued to it.

Seconds later, he did it again, and she un-consciously started to breathe a little faster. He'd kind of messed his hair but even with many strands out of place, it did nothing to diminish his handsomeness. It did make him look cute though, and even a little adorable.

Without warning, the Slytherin placed his hands on his waist with a searching expression, and the head girl rapidly blinked. Bloody Merlin, how could she think—no, it wasn't like that. She was just tired after all those failed attempts, and her mind had just picked up on physical facts that-erm-that-err. The bushy haired witch's mind froze as her eyes fixed onto the dark lord's lower mid-zone, by putting his hands near his hips, he'd caused his robes to move far back, resulting in the exposure of the top half his trousers, which was usually mostly covered.

As the heir of Slytherin started to slowly walk around the room, Hermione's vision focused on the belt around his waist. It was black leather with a few cracks here and there, and the clasp in the middle was oddly black metal, not silver, gold or bronze, like the other boys usually had.

With those long legs of his though, he appeared more of a man and less of a boy. From head to toe, everything about him was manly and majestic. Like he was some powerful and handsome mythological Greek God, that'd materialised in reality and such was his magnificence, it was obvious that he didn't belong in this mundane world. "I think I've found the answer," Tom suddenly said, coming to a pause with his body facing her, and Hermione's face went red as she snapped out of her thoughts.

Bloody hell, she did not just think that. It didn't mean anything, she'd just temporarily gone insane due to tiredness, stress and she was under a lot of pressure. The head girl nervously scratched the back of her neck while glancing at the floor, as she realised the dark lord was staring right at her, was she imagining things, or did it look like he was waiting for her to say something? Christ, had he read her mind? The witch held her breath and thinned her lips. No way, she was sure her mental Occulumency shield hadn't been breached. Then why on earth was he-? Was it his usual freaky staring thing or-? Oh crap, he'd said something about having found an answer, and she'd bloody forgotten in her panicked state of mind.

"Oh," Hermione said in a questioning tone after taking a deep breath, as she forced herself to look at him again.

"Light is still the issue," Tom said, gripping the knot of his tie with his left hand, and her eyes slightly widened. Was that really happening, or was she finally losing it? "The distraction is as much as internal, as it is external." He continued, pulling on the strip of material around his collar until it loosened, and Hermione's cheeks coloured a shade darker. What the hell was he talking about, and what in God's name was he-? As the long fingers of his hands started to undo the tie, the witch found herself unable to think for a moment, and her natural blush spread from her face to her ears. "Internally, it is the mental response and the resulting mindset, which I believe has been overlooked." Tom added, sliding the green necktie off his upper body, and Hermione forced her eyes to look down as she suddenly found it hard to breath. What the fuck had he said? Why in the name of seven heavens was he-? The head girl took a deep breath, and squeezed the cushion resting on her, she needed to come back to her bloody senses. "Without the presence of light, the ability to see is still present." The dark lord said, and the witch continued to look downwards.

Okay, he'd taken his tie off. So what, why the hell was it getting to her like this? Yes, it was unusual behaviour for him but it wasn't inappropriate. It was after 5 pm so there was no longer a requirement to be in school uniform, and he was probably tired and had wanted to be more at ease. "I am certain that knowledge is the main blockage to any advancement," Tom said and as she made herself look up again, a lost look found its way to her face. Fuck, she had no idea what he'd said. Something about light again and the rest, she was absolutely clueless. "Therefore, that fact must be invalidated." She still didn't know what he was going on about, and asking him wasn't an option unless she wanted to risk getting tortured. Wait, he'd just presented her with a way to ask without him becoming any wiser, as to how unaware she really was.

"How can that be achieved?" Hermione said, putting on an expression that was thoughtful and questioning. She had no knowledge of the fact he wanted to make un-true, but asking how to do so would let her know, surely?

"The mind must believe that the ability to see has been lost," Ah, so that's what it was. The fact that better sight was only a matter of her opening her eyes, was what he thought was subconsciously distracting her. "That the slightest possibility of anything different, is out of the mind and its body's control." Yikes, she didn't like the sound of that one bit. "You'd have to be as good as a blind person," Tom added, drawing his wand. A horrified expression plastered on her face, and she moved as far back as she could into her armchair.

"You're going to blind me with magic," Hermione said in a low voice with wide eyes, as he took a few steps towards her. He came to a halt with a look of disbelief, before glancing down at his magical stick, and then he nodded his head side to side.

"No, Granger." the dark lord said, vocalising his answer and she couldn't believe her ears. "Has half of your brain gone to sleep?" he added in a slightly irritated tone. "Only black magic can take away sight, pain is unavoidable." Tom vocalised, balling his hands into fists and the witch thinned her lips. "How does that allow us to advance?" he almost shouted, and Hermione couldn't help flinch as she sharply inhaled.

"Sorry, I must be very tiered." the head girl said in a quiet, apologetic voice. That was probably true, and he was also to blame because his behaviour had been super scary.

"Please excuse my outburst," the Slytherin said in a much calmer voice, while looking at the floor and she rapidly blinked feeling uneasy.

Christ, he was doing it again. "At this point we both must be very tired," he added, looking up as he un-curled his fingers. For a few seconds, they both stared at each other with blank expressions and then he took a step towards her. "Your sight must be taken away by non-magical means," Tom suddenly said. "Using something painless and non-magically constructed." It took Hermione's mind less than a second to understand, he meant a blindfold, and it didn't take her very long to realise what he was going to say next. "This is the best option," the dark lord added, holding up his tie and confirming the awful conclusion she'd come to.

Hermione stared at his long and slim item of clothing, like it was a poisonous snake that could bite her at any second. Merlin, this could not be fucking happening? This was a twisted nightmare, had to be because-God, what if it wasn't then why-arrgh. "It can be easily used like a blindfold," Tom said in an annoyed tone as he rolled his eyes, implying he knew she wasn't dumb enough, to not have understood what he'd meant earlier, and that he was highly irritated by her no response. "If there is anything else in this room that can be used as such-" the dark lord started, raising his voice a little. "-do enlighten me," he added, emphasising enlighten. Hermione bit the inside of her cheeks, as she wildly moved her eyes around the room. Bloody Merlin, damn it. He was right, there was nothing here that could be used as a blindfold. Her tie could've been used, but she'd changed from her uniform into a casual dress, to be more comfortable. How the hell was she supposed to have known she'd be in this situation? "Nothing?" Tom said sharply, and the head girl almost jumped. "I'd thought as much," he added in a louder voice, and she shrank further back into her armchair. Oh, God. She had to piece herself together and fix everything. "Shall we continue according to my instructions," the dark lord further added in a high pitched tone. "Or would you like to waste more time?" he continued in a low angry voice, as he balled his hands into fists. Holy mother Mary, she had to stop him before he got really angry and torturous.

"Sorry, Riddle." Hermione said with a fearful and apologetic look, that wasn't entirely an act. "I-err-" Now the hard part, submitting to his will. "I didn't want to inconvenience you any more than I already have," Even if it was uncomfortable she had to force herself to do it, a little more occulumency should help.

"I've allowed you to waste a lot of my time," Tom said in a voice that sounded more displeased than angry. "A little more would make no difference," he added, stressing difference as he un-curled his fingers. "It's clean," Tom said holding up his necktie again, while looking kind of offended. Bloody Merlin, that wasn't why she'd hesitated. "My jumper didn't harm you, my tie won't either." he added in an annoyed tone while raising an eyebrow.

Hermione swallowed as a feeling she couldn't identify washed over her, was he trying to make her feel guilty? He'd imperioed the bloody jumper on her, she hadn't chosen to wear it. Arrgh, damn it. She had to let everything go and do as he commanded. He was right about one thing though, she'd worn something of his before, so why should it be a big deal now? Right, why was she reacting like this? She was overreacting, surely he was asexual and she'd given him no reason to harm her. "If I wanted to harm you, I would've by now." he said as if on cue, and the anger in his voice made her eyes slightly widen.

"I know," Hermione said in an almost whispering voice, and his expression softened. "Sorry, I didn't intend to react like that." she added, making her voice apologetic. "I think I'm a little overworked," the head girl continued, creasing her forehead. "What you're proposing sounds most reasonable, we should continue." Hermione forced herself to say, and she instinctively strengthened the grip on her wand.

"Try to relax," Tom said, pointing his magical stick at her, and she couldn't help the alarmed look on her face, as she wondered why he was aiming it at her. When he flicked his wand, she rapidly blinked like a reflex reaction, and her eyelids froze as she witnessed his tie levitate mid air. Merlin, tiredness must be really making her fucking stupid. Why else would she have thought, he'd tie it around her head with his hands. Susan's wild theories and her muggle childhood had probably filled her subconscious, and easily gained dominance in her lethargic state.

Of course he'd use magic to do it, Hermione thought as she finally gave into the much needed blinking, her eyes were desperate for. "I assure you, it won't hurt," the dark lord said, magically manipulating his green strip of fabric, to float in a horizontal position instead of a vertical. Thank God, he didn't know the real reason she'd appeared nervous, was because of the nonsense she'd thought. Tom suddenly gave his wand a wave, and knowing it was time, the head girl took a deep breath. Seconds later, the dark lord's necktie covered her eyes with its silky body. Before wrapping itself around her head, and forming its ends into a secure knot, at the base of her skull.

Her eyes were shut under the makeshift blindfold, and her senses were highly aware of it resting against her eyelids. She could also still detect mild light at the bottom edge of the tie, the witch was about to vocalise that, when all trace of light vanished, and nothing but pitch black greeted her sight. Ah, Tom must've come to the same conclusion and eliminated all the light in the room. "Concentrate," she suddenly had the Slytherin say, and Hermione hesitated for a moment before re-casting the levitation spell. Surely, she'd done it right so the feather must be levitating. It was kind of weird doing a spell without seeing the end result, and also willingly being in complete darkness with lord Voldemort.

Arrgh, she should definitely not think about that. Hard to do when the necktie strongly smelt off sandalwood and cloves, his signature perfume as far as she was concerned. Merlin, damn it. She needed to change her mindset and strengthen her occulumency. She would not be undone by a scent, the dark lord didn't exclusively own the perfume he wore. And if she kind of liked it, there was nothing wrong with that either, because they both could like the same thing, without it meaning they liked each other. Yeesh, no. That route of thinking was absolutely wrong, she did not like him like that and never would.

Hermione took a deep breath before refreshing the hold on her wand, she had to bloody focus and rise above all the crap. The bushy haired witch exhaled sharply, then she emptied her mind from distractions and once again, she put all her effort and energy into feeling magic. A while passed as Hermione sat still in darkness with her forehead creased, and her hand that gripped her wand was using more force than necessary. After some more time, her fingers started to cramp a little. Hermione began to think everything was going to end in failure again, when she suddenly felt a mild magnetic tingle at the palm of her wand hand, and she couldn't help respond with a loud gasp. "You felt it," Hermione heard Tom say in a slightly excited tone.

"Yes, but its gone." the head girl said in a voice that sounded pleased and uncertain.

"Try again, it should be much easier now." the witch re-attempted with more confidence than before, and like he'd said, detecting magic was less difficult this time and quicker, but it was faint and disappeared after a few seconds. The head girl found it again, and the result was still the same.

"Every time I detect it, I can only feel it for a few seconds." Hermione said, after building up a little courage, as she was expecting him to react to the news very negatively.

"I doubt that's unusual since you're new to this," she heard the dark lord say, without a trace of unpleasantness in his voice, and she released a breath, she hadn't realised she was holding. "With more practice you should be able to sustain it for longer periods," she heard him further add, and she couldn't help tense a little, as she also picked up the sound of his footsteps. "Keep trying until you reach about a minute," Hermione took a deep breath, then she made herself feel magic again and again.

After a while she realised the time of detecting it, had lengthened by a few more seconds, and it motivated her to keep repeating the process.

"It should be enough by now," she suddenly heard Tom's voice say from behind her, and she couldn't help jump in her seat. "Is it almost a minute?" his voice questioned near her left ear, and a strange tense feeling developed inside the back of her neck. Merlin, what the-? He was a little too close than usual and she was blind, naturally she would be scared and that's what it was, had to be.

"Err- it's definitely over 30 seconds," head girl forced out, trying to calm her racing pulse. "So-erm-yes," she added, after inhaling sharply. Suddenly, something tugged at her makeshift blindfold and she flinched, startled. A second later, its grip around her head loosened before its long silky body slid off her skin, and landed on the wrist of her wand hand, and the cushion on her lap.

Her eyes were free now, she knew that but for some reason, she was kind of afraid to open them. What the hell was wrong with her? He was pleased with her so what was there to be scared of? True, he obviously wanted her to open her eyes otherwise he wouldn't have- now that she thought of it, the sensation of his tie coming undone had felt a bit physical as it had been done without smoothness, and had lacked only the precise force necessary to achieve the task, which could only mean-. Bloody Merlin, it meant it hadn't been magic. He'd used his actual fingers and physically-. Why would he-why had he-? How had he seen the knot without light? He was a Naga freak, nothing new and she was bloody freaking out.

She had to fucking calm down, things were great because she'd discovered something new and incredible. Yes, un-believable but she couldn't deny what she'd d felt. That is what her mind should be on, not stupid mundane things, like how her blindfold was undone. Actually, now that she was calm. She could understand, he hadn't bothered with magic due to convenience, as he had been standing quite close to her, and she'd just overreacted, since he was Voldemort.

Without warning, mild light touched her eyelids and she knew she'd have to open her eyes soon, especially since the candles were lit in the room again. As she heard footsteps, Hermione decided to make herself see again, and she rapidly blinked as her uncovered eyeballs, found the light too bright. While her sight returned to normal, she realised Tom was now standing in front of her, and his expression was unreadable. A few seconds passed in silence as he stared at her, and she held his gaze while appearing emotionless. Suddenly, a smile formed on his face and she instantly felt relieved, then she gave into the urge to slightly smile. It lasted a moment, and his incomplete smile disappeared shortly afterwards, but his expression looked calm.

"Levitate a feather," Tom instructed, adjusting the hold on his wand and as Hermione obeyed, she couldn't help feel a little nervous. "Relax," he said with an annoyed undertone, and she realised her wand hand was shaking. Crap, her nervousness was actually visible. The bushy haired witch took a deep breath, and forced herself to be still. "Feel the magical energy in the palm of your wand hand," the dark lord said a second later, and she couldn't stop her pulse from quickening a little.

She could do this, she had to bloody calm down. The head girl inhaled and exhaled deeply. Then she willed herself to detect magic, like she'd done before and she immediately felt a weak magnetic force, that seemed to flicker on and off. "Can you feel it?" he suddenly asked, sounding a little anxious. Ah, so she wasn't alone in having worried, it wouldn't work during actual show time.

"Yes," Hermione replied, nodding her head and a pleased look flashed on his face.

"Focus on the spell, and the magical energy at the same time." What he was asking her to do made sense now, but could she accomplish it?

Off course, she'd been capable so far, so it definitely wasn't a Naga thing. As she attempted to do two things at once, she found it extremely difficult. Either spell's hold on the feather diminished, or the sensation of the magical force decreased. No matter how much she tried, she couldn't successfully grasp them both at the same time.

"I-erm-" Hermione started after a few more seconds of failure. "- I can't," she began again with a disappointed look.

"Yes, you can." Tom interrupted with a slightly raised voice, and she couldn't help flinch. "You just need more practice," he added in a calm tone. "Try again," he said with an encouraging expression. That face wasn't fooling anyone, she knew he was seriously pissed off. Fuck, she couldn't fail. Forget her self disappointment and shame. Surely, he would crucio for not producing the desired result, after wasting so much of his time. "The quicker the better," the dark lord suddenly added, sounding impatient, and she almost jumped in her seat. "Less time for doubt to enter the mind," he continued, emphasising doubt. "Don't let it cloud your true capabilities," Tom said, nodding his head side to side.

Hermione thinned her lips feeling more under pressure than ever, as she'd picked up on the slight coldness in his voice. The busy haired witch held her breath, as she refreshed the levitation spell, then she filled her lungs with air, before feeling magic in her wand hand once more. She tried to do two things at the same time again, and she encountered the same problem. "Focus on the magical energy first," the heir of Slytherin said, after she'd attempted a few more times. "While you can still feel it, shift your attention to the spell." Hermione tried to do what he'd said, but she still couldn't make it work. "Granger," he suddenly questioned while raising an eyebrow, and the head girl nodded her head to say no, with a stressed expression. "Empty your mind of any doubt and distractions," Tom said almost angrily, pointing his wand at her, and she nearly dropped her magical stick. "I shouldn't have-" the dark lord started, as he lowered his wand while looking at the floor. "Stress and tiredness, not a good combination." he said, pinching his forehead with his thumb and fore finger.

Merlin, was this the third or fourth time he'd-? Why was he-? Elaborate and manipulative long game with an ulterior motive, of course. "Continue with all your willpower," Tom voiced, looking up. "I'm sure a witch of your capabilities will eventually succeed," he added, and his expression appeared to match what he'd said. As his words re-played in her mind, the head girl felt a warm sensation spread from her head to toe. Right now, she felt a lot more confident. It didn't matter if Tom had lied to make her feel this way, because in the end it was her magical skill alone, that'd produce result and she was determined to succeed.

"Sorry, I'll put in more effort." Hermione said, as she refreshed her levitation spell once again.

"Perhaps, it'll help if you don't think of it as a two step process." The dark lord voiced with a thoughtful expression, as he fidgeted with his wand. "Try to see it as a long single step," Hhmm, not a bad idea. She briefly made eye contact with him, as she nodded her head to say she'd acknowledged what he'd said. Then Hermione followed his instructions feeling more hopeful than ever, first there was nothing until she suddenly felt awareness, of both the magical force and the spell. It was hard to explain in words, the best similar way to describe it, would be being able to hear two different sounds at once, where before it was only one type.

"It worked," she burst out in an excited tone, looking right at him. Blink of an eye later, she realised she'd spoken in a much louder voice than intended. She turned red as she couldn't help feel a little embarrassed, he must be thinking she was too childish, and probably regretting his decision to teach her anything.

"As I expected," Tom said almost coolly, crossing his arms and she started to feel a lot worse. "You're a little less stupid than I'd thought," he added in a humorous tone, before tilting his head a little to the left and smiling slightly.

Instantly, her mood brightened and as her confidence returned, she smiled back for a few seconds. "Clear your mind," the dark lord voiced, with a sudden blank expression. "The magical energy is connected to the feather through the spell," he added, moving his head back to the centre. "Feel that connection," Tom said, emphasising connection and a look of disbelief flashed on her face. Merlin wasn't that three things at once now? "It's a small extension to what you've already learnt," he said, as if on cue. "Don't over think it," he voiced, in a tone that said this was more of threat or a warning, than a suggestion or advice. Hermione nodded her head with a calm expression, only she wasn't and the pressure to succeed was back full force. Feeling magic and linking it to the levitation spell, came surprisingly quick to her this time. Now, she had to go a little further and connect it to the floating feather.

After a while, Hermione creased her brows and sharply exhaled. Damn it, he'd made it sound so easy by saying small extension. Bloody wasn't, her wand hand was kind of going numb and she wanted a break. Arrgh, she couldn't voice that without risking torture. "Some things produce better results with continuous effort," Tom said, crossing his arms and she panicked for a second. Before realising he's come to a logical conclusion from observing her body language, and he hadn't somehow read her mind. "Even if it's exhausting, you must continue." he added in a commanding tone, creasing his forehead and she quashed the instinctive spark of fear, that was threatening to ignite. Now wasn't the time to worry about what would happen if she couldn't pull it off, she had to try again and give it her 100% best. Hermione looked right at Tom and nodded her head, to show she agreed with him. Then she focused on the levitating feather, she waited until the weak magnetic force like magical energy felt stronger, before willing the connection to extend a few centimetres more.

When nothing changed, anger and disappointment threatened to break through her calm state of mind. Hermione thinned her lips as she subdued her negative emotions, and carried on. "It exists, it's already there." the dark lord suddenly said, and she blinked feeling a little startled. "Feel it," he continued in a slightly impatient tone. "Focus on the feather alone, the previous steps should come naturally by now." The heir of Slytherin added, and it wasn't long before she followed his instruction. Suddenly, she became aware of the magical energy's connection to the feather. There was an un-describable mental presence, and the invisible force beginning in her wand hand felt like a jet of running water, that also had an aura of magnetic energy.

"The connection, I can feel it." Hermione said, trying and failing to not sound excited.

"I knew you were capable, I'm rarely wrong." Tom voiced in an almost bored tone, and the head girl struggled to keep an upset look off her face.

Fucking psycho, he just had to make her hard earned achievement more about him. "Actually, that's not entirely correct." he said, un-crossing his arms. "I was sure you'd be able to do it, just not today" he added, shaking his head. "I must admit I'm somewhat impressed," Tom said, raising an eyebrow before giving her one of his charming full smiles. It was only for a few seconds, but it was enough to wipe all negativity from her mind, and make her feel like she was flying.

As Tom smiling re- played in her mind, mild natural blush covered her cheeks and her pulse quickened and a little. Ah, so before he was just messing with her. Merlin, he'd actually said the word impressed. "Perhaps I've spoken too soon," the dark lord said rolling his eyes, and Hermione momentarily held her breath. "That opinion could change in a few minutes," he added with half a smile on his face, and for a second she stared at him confused. Before realising he was insinuating, that she would fail to achieve the end goal and make everything before irrelevant and therefore, his statement of being impressed would become void. But he couldn't be serious since his lips were fashioned to reflect an incomplete smile, so he was having a laugh at her expense with his twisted humour, wasn't he?

"No, I don't believe it will." Hermione said with a smile, that did nothing to hide the annoyance on her face.

"You sound quite certain," he said, tilting his head to the left.

"I am, I won't fail after coming this far." the head girl voiced in an irritated tone.

"Time to prove your words," Tom said with a sceptical appearance, and she almost gave him a dirty look. "Pull the feather towards you, then push it away." he instructed with a serious expression, as he moved his head back to the centre, and she obeyed with an equally serious look. "Repeat that a few times," he added and soon, she did just that. "Do it once more, and this time focus on the way the magical energy moves." As Hermione obeyed, she found that the magical force seemed to expand when the feather move forward, and reduced when the feather travel backwards. It sort of felt like an invisible elastic string was attached to the levitating item, that she could manipulate by moving the feather, and she suddenly wondered if it would work the other way. "Granger," Tom said, interrupting her thought. "Did you feel the movement, or do you need to try again?" he added, raising an eyebrow.

"I felt it," she said, shaking her head. "There's a difference in the way it feels when I move the feather."

"Keep that sensation in mind," dark lord said, nodding his head. "Refresh the spell, and focus on the magical energy," he instructed and a second later, she did just that. "Especially it's connection to the feather," he added, emphasising connection. "Then shift your attention to another feather, and mentally push the energy until it forms a connection with it." he continued, stressing the word connection again.

She momentarily stopped breathing, and blinked several times as his instructions re-played in her mind. Holy Mother Mary, Merlin's beard. How many things was that at once now? Too many, way too many for her. "Sounds harder than it is, "the heir of Slytherin said, making her almost jump. "Don't over think it," he added in a slightly threatening tone, and she thinned her lips as she took in a sharp intake of breath. "After so many hours, you should be able to do it." he continued in a louder voice, and she reflexively nodded her head to say yes.

Hours, had she heard that right? Oh, God. She should've thought before-no, yes is the only answer because anything else would surely lead to crucio. She could do this, she was almost there. Avoiding the dark lord's eyes, Hermione deeply inhaled and exhaled, before attempting his latest instructions. As she diverted her attention to the second feather, she eliminated the doubtful thoughts that tried to take root in her mind. Then the head girl momentarily stop breathing, before mentally pushing the magical energy even further, and when she felt the sudden presence of an energetical link to the second feather, her eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. Merlin, it was the first try and she'd actually done it.

"I can feel it, the connection." Hermione said with a pleased look, as she allowed her eyes to meet his again.

"To both feathers," the dark lord said, sounding and looking sceptical.

"Yes, both of them." she replied in an almost offended tone, and an emotionless face.

"Compared to your earlier attempts, this is unusual." Tom voiced in a slightly defensive tone. "Unexpected even, don't you agree?" he added, sounding irritated as he creased his brows.

Resisting the urge to scream in frustration, she forced herself to nodded her head in agreement. "Impressive progress," The heir of Slytherin said, expressionlessly. As she wondered if she'd misheard, half a smile appeared on his face and all her frostiness, and annoyance instantly vanished. Hermione smiled back for a few seconds and then for a moment, they both stared at each other un-smiling. "We have arrived at the final step," Tom suddenly said and she blinked, feeling a little startled.

Holy Mother- Merlin's beard. Oh, God. Everything has been building to the outcome of this - - what if she failed to-? "Granger, calm yourself." the dark lord said in a slightly raised voice, and she realised her wand hand was shaking once again. The head girl forced it to still before biting the inside of her cheeks, and then she cleared her mind of all doubts and negativity. "You've proven yourself capable so far," he said in a calmer voice. "Keep in mind, you said you wouldn't fail after coming so far." he continued with an encouraging expression. The head girl nodded her head to say 'yes, I haven't forgotten'. "Clear your mind," Tom voiced in a commanding tone, and she released the inside of her cheeks from the grip of her teeth, before deeply inhaling and exhaling. "Connect the spell, and the magical energy to both of the feathers again." he instructed, and soon she did as he'd said. Then she raised her head a little and looked right at him, waiting for him to reveal the next instructions. "Repeat what you did, but this time will for both of the feathers to rise up." Tom said, emphasising feathers as he tilted his head slightly to the left. Erm- that sounded- she could do it.

Hermione took a deep breath once again, then when it was time to lift the feather, she hesitated for a moment before mentally commanding both of the feathers to levitate. The first one immediately rose into the air, and as the second feather began to flutter, her heart skipped a beat. Merlin, did that mean it would work? "Try again with more focus," the dark lord said in an almost mechanical tone, and she bit her lips, as you willed with every fibre of her being, for the feathers to rise up. Suddenly, they were both levitating and Hermione gasped in disbelief and joy.

God in heaven, Merlin's beard. Not only was this magical energy feeling thing real, but she'd actually managed to use it to achieve multiple levitation. Had she, what if-?

"Riddle, are they really-?" the head girl started in a slightly shaky voice, as the dark lord un-tilted his head.

"Yes, they're both levitating." Tom interrupted, sounding extremely pleased. "You are a very talented witch," he continued, staring at her with such interest in his eyes, that it almost seemed passionate and her cheeks coloured a shade darker in response. "Especially, under guidance." he added, before giving her a full smile for a few seconds.

Her natural blush spread to her ears, and as her lips stretched to reflect a wide smile, her pulse quickened a little. "Don't overexcite yourself yet," Tom said with a sudden serious expression, and her smile vanished. "You'll lose concentration," he added, gesturing towards her wand and she realised, the floating feathers were continuously falling a little and then rising.

Yikes, they looked like they could fall to the ground at any second. As she focused all her mind on them, they stabilised in seconds and remained floating mid air in the same spot. "Try moving them without letting them fall," he instructed while crossing his arms, and feeling under pressure once more, she mentally commanded them to move in her intended direction. To her surprise, it was extremely difficult and it was like trying to push something heavy. "Moving upwards is easier for beginners," he suddenly recommended, after her poor performance, of moving the feathers a little side to side.

As she tried to get them to rise up instead, the head girl creased her forehead in concentration, and after a couple of seconds, the feathers shot up a few centimetres. It's a definitely been easier, for some reason it was mentally lighter to move them that way. "Do that again," the dark lord instructed, and she wanted the feathers to move up a little, but they rose up really high instead. Why the hell had they-? "Good," the Slytherin's voice said, interrupting her thought. Clearly, he had no idea the feathers hadn't exactly moved as she'd wished. "Slowly bring them down a few centimetres," he added in a commanding tone, and when she tried, she found she couldn't move them in the slightest. Fuck, why the hell were they-? The head girl creased her forehead, as she willed with all her mind for the feathers to move down. Without warning, her mental connection to the feathers severed, and they began to naturally fall. To her horror, they landed on Tom's head and un-blinking, she stared at him with a fearful expression.

Suddenly, Tom started to laugh out loud and she almost dropped her wand in shock. Why was he-? Did that mean he wasn't angry? "Granger, your expression is most unsuitable." he said breathlessly before laughing again. "Feathers are harmless and easy to remove." he added with laughter in his voice, while rolling his eyes. The head girl blinked several times with an expression, that alternated between uncertain and fearful every few seconds. "An apologetic appearance would be more appropriate," the dark lord said unsteadily. "I must admit, I find your current expression entertaining." he added before breaking out in laughter once more.

Hermione took a deep breath feeling relieved, he didn't sound angry and he definitely didn't look it. Thank God, but he sure as hell wasn't right in the head.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to." The head of girl said, lowering her wand hand with a cautious expression.

"I don't doubt that," he said breathlessly. "You must maintain the connection at all times," the Slytherin added in an uneven voice, before laughing once again. "You lost control of small, light feathers," Tom continued in a high-pitched tone, before resuming his loud laughter. Ah, so he wasn't crazily laughing at nothing. He was laughing at her, her inability to control two feathers. "That's justifiably laughable," the heir of Slytherin said in an almost whispering voice, as he pulled the white and grey coloured feathers, from the front of his dark and wavy hair. "Don't you agree?" he said breathlessly, discarding the feathers on the floor before laughing loudly once again.

Well, when he put it like that it was kind of funny. No longer finding the dark lord's behaviour a threat, his laughter started to feel contagious and it wasn't long before Hermione broke out in giggles. "You do realise you're laughing at yourself," the Slytherin said in a wavering voice as he pointed at her with raised eyebrows.

"I know," she said, shaking her head and then they both broke out in laughter once more. "I don't believe I'm wrong, when I say the occurrence is more due to exhaustion than my skill." the head girl said breathlessly, before rubbing the wrist of her wand hand.

"Perhaps," he said unsteadily, putting on an unconvinced expression. In seconds, he was laughing again and blink of an eye later, she joined him.

He was obviously just kidding, because if he'd really thought she was that awful, he wouldn't have bothered to teach her.

"I doubt you'd impart knowledge to someone that unworthy," she said with laughter in her voice, as she shook her head side to side.

"Haven't I so far," Tom said in a humorous tone, while smiling toothily.

"Ouch," Hermione said with a mock hurt expression, before giggling once more.

"No matter the reason," she added rolling her eyes, as the dark lord continued to laugh out loud. "Your infectious laughter has made it funny, I don't even know why it's so funny." the head girl continued in a high-pitched voice, before laughing with the dark lord again.

"I confess, I too am clueless." The heir of Slytherin said breathlessly. "Perhaps stress and tiredness have conspired to make fools of us," he continued, before his face broke out in toothy smiles.

"Perhaps," Hermione agreed, also smiling toothily. As he laughed once again, some of his hair slightly covered his left eye and in seconds, he pushed them away with his long fingers. Before resting his hands on his waist, and Hermione suddenly felt like she couldn't breathe.

Bloody Merlin, Jesus Christ. He looked so human, laughing and smiling. And he was so handsome, in her lifetime she had never come across a boy so beautiful. Tom suddenly turned a little sideways, causing the metal buckle of his belt to glisten in the candlelight for a moment, and as her eyes snapped to it, her breath quickened and her cheeks suddenly felt hot. Arrgh, what the hell was wrong with her? That thing in front of her was lord Voldemort, not a human boy. She had been laughing with a demon, a monster that looks so-erm so-. God in heaven, what the hell was happening to her? The dark lord stared at her with his face emotionless now, and without the smiles and laughter, she suddenly found the atmosphere awkward and uncomfortable.

Without warning, Tom started to walk towards her, and she almost jumped in her seat.

"Granger," he said, coming to a still near her shoulder and as her pulse quickened, she looked at anything but him. "There's a feather in your hair," the dark lord added, and her eyes widened in disbelief. What the- did he really say that? Why would he-oh, God. "Do you mind if I-? Tom started, moving his hand towards her head. She did mind but she couldn't say that, if she wanted everything between her and the dark lord to remain peaceful.

"No," Hermione forced herself to say, still not meeting his eyes. A second later, she felt his fingers lightly touch her scalp and she took in a sharp intake of breath, as a strange warm feeling swept through her. Suddenly there was a loud sound. Tom pulled his hand away and her shoulders jumped, as they both looked towards the source of the noise. A mortified expression plastered on Hermione's face, as she saw Bones standing in the doorway with a shocked look. Merlin, fuck. "It's not what it looks like," Hermione said in a high-pitched and rushed voice.

"Forgive me," Bones said with an expression of disbelief still on her face. "You can consider whatever I've seen, unseen." The Gryffindor head girl continued lowering her gaze, and Hermione wanted to vanish from existence. "I will return in a minute or two," she added, turning to leave and Hermione's face turned an even deeper shade of red.

"Bones, please step inside and close the door." Tom said in a commanding tone and a second later, the girl did as he'd said. "I'd be grateful, if you could enlighten me on what you think you saw." he continued, taking a step towards her.

"Riddle, I-erm-" Bones started in an uncomfortable tone.

"I assure you, we were not engaging in anything scandalous or morally wrong." he cut in, and even though he was saying they hadn't been doing that sort of thing, the words scandalous and morally wrong, made Hermione want to run and hide.

"Of course, I never said otherwise." Bones said in a rushed voice, but her expression appeared suspicious.

"Still, as a head boy that represents good character, behaviour and morals," Tom voiced, emphasising good. "I feel it is my duty to offer an explanation, especially if it can prevent the misinterpretation of a situation." he continued, looking and sounding humble.

"Riddle, your words alone are enough to-" the Gryffindor head girl started, appearing kind of guilty.

"I insist," the dark lord interrupted, slightly bowing his head.

"Then I must oblige," Bones said, stiffly nodding her head in return, and Hermione forced herself from giving Bones a dirty look.

Uh, 1940s wizarding world resembled the Victorian times, where the slightest suggestion of impropriety could pose a risk to your reputation. Even then, that hypocritical so called virgin harlot had no right to judge on what was proper.

"I was teaching Granger multiple levitation," Tom said, glancing towards Hermione and she looked cool and uncaring, when she felt the exact opposite. "For beginners, it's best to levitate something non-magically constructed and light." he continued, summoning the cushion he'd torn. "So I borrowed a few feathers from it," he said, holding up the damaged sofa pillow. "Easily repairable, no harm done." the dark lord added, as he made the cushion good as new with a flick of his wand. "Granger, surpassed my expectation." the Slytherin said, placing his eyes on Hermione for a moment, and she tried her best to not look uneasy. "For further practice, we required something slender that wasn't too light or heavy" he easily lied, taking a few steps towards the bushy haired witch. "I'd taken my tie off earlier, I was tired and I'd wanted to be more at ease." he continued, as he grasped the green necktie that was still on Hermione's lap, and the bushy haired which almost jumped.

Bloody psycho, if it wasn't for his twisted teaching methods, it wouldn't have looked so- thank God, he hadn't revealed the whole blindfold thing. "To my knowledge, being seen without a tie isn't indecent." Tom voiced, placing the silky, long strip of cloth around his neck like an untied scarf.

"Of course not," Bones said, nodding her head in agreement.

"At the time, my tie seemed the best candidate to use for further practicing." he continued, looking at Bones and the girl's expression still appeared unsure. "Granger, had no objections to making use of it." the dark lord added, shifting his eyes to Hermione and she momentarily stopped blinking. "Such an act may seem odd or unsettling," the Slytherin continued, slightly tilting his head to the left. "Especially, if it was between strangers or someone unfamiliar." Hermione unconsciously sat up a little straighter, and thinned her lips. "However, that was not an issue for us." What the hell was he trying to say? "Granger, has been a trusted colleague for months." he added, moving his head back to the centre. "And is somewhat-" he continued, as he placed the repaired cushion on the armrest of Hermione's seat. "- my friend." Tom added in a tone that said he found the word friend alien, while looking right at Hermione, and the bushy haired witch's heart skipped a beat.

Bloody Merlin, did he actually say-? It was an act, he was acting. "If Miss Granger and I, truly wished to involve ourselves in decadent and morally corrupt practices," the dark lord continued, taking a step back and looking at Bones. "Somewhere more private would've served us better." he added, emphasising private. "Then the common room that's accessible to our colleagues and professors, who could walk in without a seconds notice." the Slytherin continued, stressing the word seconds and Bones's expression immediately changed. The Gryffindor head girl looked regretful and guilty. Thank God, Riddle was good with words and he wasn't wrong.

"Forgive me, I shouldn't have assumed the worst." Bones said, shaking her head side to side.

"No need to apologise," Tom voiced with a reassuring expression.

"I am of the same opinion." Hermione said with an unbothered look.

"We are partly to blame, the sight we presented would make anyone doubt us." the dark lord vocalised, with a slightly smiling expression, and Hermione had to stop herself, from giving him an annoyed and questioning look.

Hadn't everything been resolved? Why on earth was he-? "There was a feather in Granger's hair," the Slytherin said, interrupting Hermione's thought and she momentarily stop blinking. "After she'd failed to pull it out, I was helping her remove it, when you walked inside." he added, looking at Hermione and she nodded her head to say 'yes, it was true'.

Merlin's beard, everything had become so stressful that she'd forgotten about that. Good thing it hadn't gone out of his head, of course the dark lord wouldn't miss anything with his sharp mind.

"Merlin, how short-sighted and narrow-minded I have been." Bones said, looking and sounding very guilty.

"I find that view too extreme," Tom said, raising his eyebrows. "It was a simple misunderstanding, best not to dwell on it." he added before briefly smiling at Bones, and a slightly irritated look crept on the bushy haired witch's face.

"You're absolutely right," Bones said in a high-pitched voice, and her cheeks had gone dark pink.

Ugh, wasn't she supposed to be in love with Longbottom? Then why was Bones- not that she cared. Of course not, it was just annoying to see because-arrgh. It didn't matter, he could bloody smile at whoever he wanted, and they could react in whatever way- not that they'd ever get anywhere with him. A faint smile settled on Hermione's face, as the scene in front of her now, seemed more comical than irritating, and she suddenly had an idea to make it funnier.

Sorry for wasting your time," Hermione said, putting on an apologetic expression. As a startled look plastered on Bones's face, indicating she'd forgotten there was another person in the room with Tom, the bushy haired which had to stop herself from laughing out loud.

"The fault is all mine," Bones said, appearing more collected as she looked at Hermione.

"Actually, we all played a part." the dark lord said, making the Gryffindor head girl look at him again. "Like we agreed earlier, let us not dwell on this unfortunate misunderstanding."

"Of course," Bones said, shaking her head. "It's quite late. If you two want to continue practicing, it's probably best to do it tomorrow." she added, glancing at her wrist watch.

"We were about to finish when you arrived," Tom said, looking at his watch with raised eyebrows.

"Oh, I won't delay you two any longer." Bones voiced, with a slightly guilty expression. "Goodnight," she said, giving Tom a smile before slightly bowing her head.

"Goodnight," the dark lord voiced, returning the smile while stiffly nodding his head, and Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

"Goodnight, Granger." Bones said with a smile free face this time, as she slightly dipped her head, and the bushy haired which almost gave her a dirty look.

"Goodnight," Hermione eventually voiced with an indifferent expression, while slightly bowing her head.

After a couple of seconds, Bones disappeared inside her chamber and the common room became silent. Tom no longer looked calm and composed, he appeared tired and a little stressed.

"If you had learnt multiple levitation earlier, we could've avoided her." he suddenly said, with an annoyed expression. What the-? Bones had believed him then why-?

"Bones definitely believed every word you said," Hermione voiced, projecting a reassuring expression.

"You think I don't know that," he almost snapped, and she momentarily stopped blinking. Yeesh, okay. Ah, he must've preferred to obliviate Bones, but had found the task too tiring at the time.

"Sorry, I should've taken the initiative to obliviate Bones, instead of inconveniencing you further." The bushy haired witch said with an apologetic look, hoping it'd calm him but from his expression, the effect seemed to be the opposite.

"Granger, do I look like a mediocre wizard?" Tom questioned in a low angry voice. Err-what the-? "If I had wanted to obliviate Bones, I would have done so."

Christ, she hadn't meant it like that. "I didn't see the point when persuasion could achieve the same result, and it is mentally less draining." he added in an irritated tone, while running a hand through his hair. "Obliviation or not, it's an annoyance." the dark lord continued, creasing his forehead, and Hermione took in a deep breath. Thank God he wasn't angry, he was just stressed and tired.

"Sorry, I shouldn't have been so slow." Hermione said, looking and sounding apologetic. Hopefully he'd stay as he was until she could escape, actually anything was preferable than rage, anger and violence.

"No matter how tiring, some things can't be forced." Tom said in a sudden calm tone, and she found his understanding expression hard to believe. "You performed to the best of your abilities," he added and she momentarily stopped breathing. "True to your words, you did succeed." the dark lord continued with a pensive look, and the bushy haired witch's face took on a slightly cautious appearance. "I believe you have great potential, Granger." the Slytherin voiced, with a smile on his lips and Hermione's pulse quickened.

A second later, she smiled back at him for a moment while tucking her hair behind her left ear, with a slightly unsteady hand. Merlin, a genius like him thought she could be capable of great things. "You need to learn to think outside the box," Tom said, flicking his wand and a hovering goblet materialised. "You need to have more of an open mind." he added, magically filling the floating object with water. "Why assume something does not exist, if you have not proven so?" the Slytherin voiced, slightly tilting his head to the left. "It helps to think like that," he continued, un-tilting his head, before taking a sip from the goblet. "I'm sure you had doubts when I asked you to feel magic." he added, raising an eyebrow.

"Kind of," the bushy haired witch said in a low voice, avoiding the Slytherin's eyes. "But I never doubted you," she added, looking directly at him again and this time, he was the one to break the connection between their eyes. "I just didn't think I was capable of what you were telling me to do," she continued in a rushed, high pitched voice. God, had she upset him?

"If you possess the ability, capability is just a matter of time." Tom said, looking at her again, and as he didn't look or sound angry, Hermione took a deep breath feeling relieved. "One must try to achieve their maximum potential," he added, emphasising try. "Only then can you know what you're truly capable of," the dark lord continued, with an expression of curiosity and interest, and her eyelids froze in an open state. A pleased and uncomfortable feeling pooled in her chest, it was a strange mix but she couldn't deny her reaction." Like the magic that you felt in your hands-" he added in an almost passionate tone, and she finally blinked. "- the magic that makes you what you are, who you are." he continued, stressing magic and her pulse quickened, as she recalled the feeling of it in her hands.

With all the recent stress, her success had gone to the back of her mind, but now the memory was back full force. And with it came the realisation, that she'd felt something that was miraculous to her, and she couldn't believe she was capable of performing a spell at a level, that required her to actually feel raw magical energy. Merlin, oh God. It was real and she had the ability. The knowledge filled her with such joy and happiness, that it was almost intoxicating. "Power literally at your Fingertips," Tom said, raising and looking at his left hand. As the word power replayed in Hermione's mind, she couldn't help feel powerful and great. She knew she wasn't the greatest, but she couldn't resist feeling more powerful than before." The first memory is always unforgettable," the dark lord voiced, looking at her again as he lowered his hand.

Seconds passed in silence, while he stared at her with a pleased look and as she held his gaze, her face appeared to mirror his expression. Her body language or logical thinking, maybe even both must've given away what was going through her mind. Why else would he use the word memory? Perhaps, it was a coincidence or not. It was only natural to be happy with an accomplishment, right.

Suddenly, the heir of Slytherin took his eyes off her, before sipping from his transparent goblet once more. "Would you like some?" he asked looking at her again, and Hermione momentarily stopped blinking, as she wondered if she'd heard right. But before she could reply, he materialised another water filled glass goblet, and levitated it towards her. Nope, he'd actually said what her ears had heard. Gazing at the hovering water holder, she hesitated for a moment, before closing her hand around it. There really was no other choice, if she refused he might get angry.

It was only water and if he'd wanted to harm her, he would've by now.

"Thank you," Hermione said, raising the goblet to her lips and suddenly, she found herself thirsty.

"You're my first," she heard him say as she drank, and almost immediately she began to cough, as she forgot the ability to swallow for a moment. "Is the water too cold?" Tom said with a slightly concerned expression, taking a few steps towards her.

"No, it's fine." The bushy haired witch said in a rushed voice, as she wiped her face with the back of her hand while avoiding his eyes. What the-had he really said that? "Earlier, what you said-?" Hermione started before instantly regretting it. "-er-"

Damn it, she shouldn't have cared why he'd said what he'd said, because he was insane.

"Teaching someone magic, especially how to feel their own magic." the dark lord started, and a slightly confused expression plastered on her face, but she still didn't meet his eyes. "I'd never done that before today," he continued, and an uncomfortable feeling gripped the bushy haired witch's heart. "Therefore, that makes you my first." Hearing the words my first again, made her want to run and hide from Tom forever.

It was crystal clear now, what he'd meant by saying that before, but for some reason her mind had decided on an interpretation of its own. "The first person I've taught," the Slytherin added, vocally confirming the already obvious fact and still, Hermione couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling. Why the hell-? It was that girl Susan, the crazy bitch always found double meanings behind words and being around the girl, must've infected her brain to think like that too. "Granger, shouldn't you say something?" she was Hermione Granger, she was above such nonsense and she would not become like Susan. Right, because she was more intelligent and above being a delusional gossip girl. "Are you silently choking on the words thank you very much?" Tom said loudly, and the bushy haired witch finally looked at him, with a lost and fearful expression.

Merlin, why did he look so annoyed? Oh, God. He'd said something, and she'd been so lost in her thoughts, she hadn't-. Suddenly, it came to her, he wanted a thank you for teaching her. As she remembered another word he'd used, the uncomfortable feeling returned with renewed vigour, and she forced herself not to break eye contact with him.

"I'm very sorry," Hermione said in a low voice, fidgeting with her hands. Crap, why did he have to use such a vulgar-. Choking alone wasn't a vulgar word, it was all Susan's virus and she had to snap out of it.

"I'm extremely tired. I got sleepy, I didn't really pay attention." she said, sounding and looking apologetic.

"Sleepy," the dark lord said in a irritated tone, and she almost flinched. "Without once having closed your eyes," he added in a louder voice while raising an eyebrow, and the bushy haired witch stopped blinking. Arrgh, why did almost nothing escape that psycho snake's eyes?

"It was more feeling that way than giving into it," Hermione said in a rushed voice, finally blinking. "I do remember what you said though," she added, nodding her head.

"You do?" the Slytherin said in a disbelieving tone.

"Thank you for teaching me," she said with a grateful expression, and she really did mean every word. "Thank you very much," she added, recalling he'd worded it like that, when he'd kind of demanded to be thanked. Tom looked at the floor for a moment, then he placed his eyes on her again, before staring at her with an expressionless face. She stared back un-moving but her pulse had slightly quickened, as she wondered what was going through his head.

"You're welcome," Tom suddenly said, and she almost jumped in her seat. Wait, that was good. Thank God, he wasn't mad or annoyed at her. "There's something not right about you," he added, tilting his head to the left, and her eyes widened. "Strange even," he continued and the bushy haired witch's heart started to beat a lot faster. "Sometimes you lose half of your brain, go deaf or can't swallow properly." Tom further vocalised with a smile on his lips, and she blinked several times, as she tried to make sense of what he'd said. "On many occasions your intelligence has been questionable," he said, un-tilting his head. Had she done something to anger him? He didn't look-that was never a 100 % guarantee when it came to the dark lord. "But by some miracle, you're the most cleverest and dumbest student I've ever met." the Slytherin added before laughing out loud, and she blinked, startled. Before smiling in relief, and kind of gratitude for the half compliment.

Merlin, thank God. He was in one of his weird humorous moods, and having a laugh at her expense. Not that she was complaining, cause this was way better than quaking in fear from torture. "Granger, should you be finding your shortcomings funny?" the dark lord said breathlessly before laughing again.

"It's the opposite actually," the bushy haired witch said with a smile on her lips. "I find my failures mortifying," she added in a serious voice, placing a hand over her heart. "But being held in the highest and lowest regard at the same time," the witch continued, nodding her head side to side as she lowered her hand. "I confess, it really confuses the mind." she said, touching her temple with her index finger. "And I am truly clueless, on why I can't help but find that funny." Hermione continued, before smiling once again and a second later, the dark lord laughed out loud once more.

The psycho snake really was nuts, one couldn't fluctuate between intelligent and not intelligent, right? She wasn't part time deaf or dumb, couldn't he see it was him that scared people into freezing up. He must know, and he probably enjoyed it. Hermione suddenly recalled Tom saying she couldn't swallow properly, and blink of an eye later she found it hard to breathe. God, damn it. She would not think like that dirty girl Susan, he'd obviously meant the water in the goblet.

"I admit, I cannot fathom why anyone would find that funny." the dark lord said breathlessly before laughing again, and the bushy haired which took a deep breath, as she tried to erase the memory of him saying swallow. Then a confused expression flashed on her face, before she remembered what she had been talking about with the dark lord. "Perhaps, they are compensating incompetency with humour." the Slytherin said with laughter in his voice, and the bushy haired witch flashed him a mock hurt look.

"I will agree to disagree," Hermione said, creasing her forehead.

"Wise choice ," Tom said, raising an eyebrow. "Even your agreement has two opposite extremes at the same time." he continued with a smile on his face, and finding herself lost for words, she stared at him with a slightly annoyed expression. "I'm sure your paradoxical responses so far are psychological," Tom said in a sudden serious tone, with all trace of a smile gone from his face. Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes and say 'it's fear and you're the root cause'. "Try to be more open-minded, and don't make me regret my decision to teach you." he continued, emphasising teach, and she suddenly felt under pressure.

Christ, what in Merlin's name-? It was nothing, it was normal. Anyone would want to live up to the magical expectations of a genius, right? Plus, she hated failing so that's what it really was.

"I will do my best," the bushy haired witch said with a sincere expression. He stared at her for a few seconds, before drinking from his goblet, and after being reminded that there was one in her hand too, she took a sip from it.

"I presumed teaching would be tedious, even somewhat unpleasant at times." Tom said, rotating the transparent goblet in his hands. Err-, next is he going to say 'it's true and I hated teaching you', Hermione thought feeling kind of anxious and uncomfortable. "Now I know that isn't exactly true for me," he added, making his goblet motionless and she momentarily stopped breathing. "It is stressful, but the feeling of satisfaction from a positive result makes it worthwhile." the dark lord continued, before smiling for a few seconds with a nostalgic look, and Hermione stared at him in disbelief, with her eyelids stuck in an open state.

Did he really say-? Yep, he'd discovered he loved teaching as long as he got a kick out of it, and she met the criteria. "Something similar must've appealed to all the great witches and wizards, that'd decided to teach, especially those that attempted it short-term." Tom voiced with a thoughtful expression, and Hermione began to blink once again. Of course he had to compare himself to great witches and wizards, to validate he wasn't odd or weak for having liked teaching, no surprise there.

Plus, his plan was to be a Hogwarts professor for his first job, so he'd obviously prefer conditions that made it more favourable to him. As he drank from his conjured goblet once again, she suddenly remembered she'd desired to learn multiple levitation last night, and how she'd joked about the chance of it happening, after she called him professor Riddle. Without warning, Tom directly looked at her and the witch couldn't help, the startled look on her face. Oh, God. Had he read her mind? Of course not, her occulumeny was in place. There was nothing scared of, but how comes what she'd wanted last night-? Coincidence, luck or fate rewarding her a little, it was any one of those things or a combination, and there was nothing to be concerned about or fear. "Are you having a nightmare with your eyes open?" Tom suddenly said in sour tone, and the bushy haired which almost jumped as her eyes widened."Or is the idea of me as a professor terrifying?" he questioned, raising his voice and she took in a sharp intake of breath.

Holy mother Mary, what the hell was fate or God playing at? The dark lord was kind of half reading her mind, without actually reading her mind at all.

"Sorry if I gave that impression," Hermione said, lowering her eyes, hoping her voice sounded sincerely apologetic. "I was just trying to keep my eyes open," she added in a guilty tone, while she ran her fingers up and down the goblet in her hands.

"Forgive me, I should not have said such harsh words." The heir of Slytherin said in a sudden soft voice, and the bushy haired witch suppressed a shocked expression. Christ, he was doing it again. Well, she'd just have to play along, and let him believe he was succeeding in manipulating her. "I too must blame sleep deprivation for my outburst," he added, running a hand through his hair and her downcast eyes, immediately snapped up like they had a mind of their own.

Thank God he didn't look angry in the slightest, he looked tired, sleepy and messy. It didn't seem right to use those words to describe him but even untidy, he looked irresistibly handsome. What the hell was she-? Hermione tore her eyes away with a guilty expression, and took a sip from the water carrier in her hands. She was tired and it was making her go stupid, that's all it was. "Calm your hands, you're spilling water everywhere." she suddenly heard Tom's voice say and it came to her attention, that the goblet in her grasp was shaking. Bloody Merlin, why was she reacting like a mad woman? After a deep breath, she stilled her hands. A second later, it came to her realisation that the dark lord had moved a lot closer to her, so close that she'd managed to spill a few drops of water on his shoes. God in heaven, how could so much have escaped her notice?

"Sorry, I didn't mean to-?" Hermione started with an apologetic expression, with her eyes towards the floor.

"I know," the dark lord said, interrupting. "It's just water," he added, drying his shoes with magic. "It wasn't my intention to unsettle or upset you," he continued in a lower voice, placing his hands on the armrest of her seat, and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing.

She wanted to jump to her feet and run to her room. This weird suffocating feeling, what was it? Something was really wrong with her, she wanted to be alone. But abruptly leaving could appear rude, and that could anger him and she really didn't want that, so she had to stay a little.

"It's okay," Hermione forced out, recalling what he'd said. The Slytherin snake was obviously faking it, but if she didn't respond, he might think she was mocking or ignoring him. Did that include not looking at him? Cause for some time she hadn't-she should make some eye contact.

The second Hermione looked up, she knew it was a huge mistake, and it took all her strength to keep her face expressionless. The bedtime poster boy from Susan's witch weekly had come to life, and was standing in front of her in a three-dimensional, flesh and blood state. According to her eyes and hormones, that only took notice of his candlelight saturated un-neat hair and undone tie, that seemed to scream, ' take me to bed'.

But her mind knew exactly who and what he was, and it was making her feel very ashamed. No, she didn't like him like that. It was all some hormonal crap, born from exhaustion and lack of sleep. Yes, and she had to look away and snap out of it.

"I think you'll make a brilliant professor," the bushy haired witch said, as she placed her eyes on her hands. That was a good move, right? She was still talking to him, so he couldn't accuse her of not giving him importance, and a compliment should make it all the better.

"You do?" he voiced in a questioning tone, taking his hand off her armchair. Merlin's beard, why did he sound so unconvinced?

"Yes, the idea of you as a professor isn't terrifying." Ah, why did he say that? Aspiring darklords must want to be feared, especially by large groups. "Not that you won't be able to make them fear you," Christ, that wasn't a normal thing to say. "I mean that in terms of-err- students won't dare to misbehave because they'll have great respect for you." she continued in a rushed voice, pressing her fingers against the glass goblet in her hands. "Like -erm-, Merrythought." Jesus, Dumbledore had almost been on her lips.

Thank God she hadn't actually said it, because he definitely would've gotten angry after hearing he'd become like his enemy. Holy mother Mary, why was it so quiet? Everything she'd said, had he taken it the wrong way? Suddenly, the sound of his laughter destroyed the quietness, and she nearly dropped the water holder in shock.

"A brilliant professor that's terrifying at the same time," the dark lord said breathlessly, as she sneaked a glance of him with a cautious expression. He didn't look angry but was he? "Two extremes meeting as one," Tom voiced emphasising one, and she drank from the goblet again with a slightly unsteady hand. Why the hell was that so uncomfortable to hear? Wasn't he pleased with what she'd said, was he? "I thought we'd seen the last of those tonight," he added with laughter in his voice, and she took a deep breath feeling relieved.

He was in a pleasant, humorous mood so she'd done good after all. Hermione took another sip from the transparent water holder, before pinching the top of her nose, but the feeling of extreme tiredness hardly subsided. Suddenly, her vision became saturated with dark shadows that filled her with peace. "Granger," a loud male voice said without warning, causing the calm atmosphere to vanish. Hermione blinked several times finding the light too bright, and then she jumped in her seat with a confused and scared expression. The pillow that'd been on her lap, why was it on the floor? How had the goblet from her hand transferred to the dark lord's hand? Cause he was holding two glass goblets now, and why did he look so amused?

"You fell asleep for a moment," the heir of Slytherin said, with half a smile on his face, and for a second she couldn't help feel un-comfortable

"Oh," Hermione said, sitting up straighter. What he said made sense, even now she could feel sleep tugging at her eyelids. The cushion must've fallen, and the goblet had most likely been heading towards the same fate, when the dark lord had caught it.

"You were about to drop it," the Slytherin said, as if on cue while raising one of the glass goblets high up.

"Thank you," the bushy haired witch said, straining her eyes.

"You're welcome," he said, making the goblets vanish. She smiled at him for a few seconds before getting on her feet, and then she used magic, to put the fallen cushion on top of the armchair she'd vacated.

She was about to levitate the box Susan had given her, but the dark lord made it rise before she could, and blink of an eye later, her newly acquired books joined the floating object. With another movement of his wand, he made them fly further up and settle in front of her room's door.

"Thank you," Hermione said, lowering her wand with an almost envious expression, and he slightly bowed his head in acknowledgement. Merlin, he made multiple levitation look so effortless.

"You should find time to practice," Tom said, hiding his magical stick on his person. "You'll eventually get better," he added, turning towards the stairs.

"I will," The bushy haired witch voiced, before walking towards the staircase to her room. When Hermione got to her door, her eyes were threatening to close again.

"Granger," the dark lord's voice called, as she was about to touch the door handle, and after rubbing her eyes, she turned in his direction.

"Goodnight," he said, stiffly nodding his head, and then he smiled at her for a few seconds. She intended to return a small smile, but for reasons she couldn't explain, she ended up smiling widely, while a strange light feeling enveloped her.

"Goodnight," Hermione voiced, straining her eyes and she blinked in surprise, at how high pitched her voice had sounded, as she hadn't intended it to. Half a smile flashed on the dark lord's face, while his fingers pulled his un-knotted tie off him, and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing, as her stomach felt like it'd become knotted.

Oh Merlin, why did he-? It was just a tie and she was very sleepy. Tom slightly bowed his head once again, and as she returned the stiff nod, she felt like a tin robot that needed oiling. After a second, the heir of Slytherin disappeared inside his chamber.

While Hermione pushed her door handle down, she heard the common room door open, and she speedily entered her room, before closing the door as quietly as possible. That could be no one other than Longbottom returning from patrolling, and she'd had no desire in engaging in small talk, or provide an answer to why she was up so late. Why hadn't he come in with Bones? Arriving separately wasn't fooling anyone, if that's what they were trying to do. The way they couldn't keep their hands of each other, the whole of Hogwarts must know by now.

The bushy haired witch swayed as she took a few steps forward, and then she collapsed on her bed. For a few seconds she let her eyelids shut before forcing them open, the idea of just sleeping in her current state was tempting, but it wasn't a good idea. The bushy haired witch yawned as she forced herself on her feet, and it wasn't long before she was dressed in her nightclothes. As she walked towards the bed again, the wind violently rattled the window, and some of the chilly air managed to seep through and touch her back. The witch couldn't help shiver before casting a warming spell on herself, and after a few seconds she was about to get into bed, when she remembered something. The dark lord's jumper, she had it. The spell was a temporary solution to the cold, but natural thick clothing was permanent, and wouldn't fade in a few hours. Hermione sank to her knees before reaching under the bed, and soon she pulled out the green jumper.

Hermione rose to her full height before holding it up, and then she gave it a shake to get rid of any dust. Seconds later, she froze with her eyes on the jumper's embroidered Slytherin symbol. It was Voldemort's, what was wrong with using it? He'd used up so many people's lives before their time, so using him or his possessions couldn't be wrong. He would end up dead by her hands no matter what, then there was nothing obstructing her and after how Voldemort had destroyed her life, she kind of had a right to take what was his, and there was no need to feel bad or guilty.

Hermione took a deep breath, then she put her hands inside the jumper and hesitated for a moment, before pulling the woolly clothing over her head. The witch turned towards the mirror while adjusting the jumper a little to the right, and then she hugged herself. It was nice and cosy, even if it was oversized. She was safe, she was still standing. See, she was right. Nothing bad would happen, and it was correct to use him as some form of payback.

Especially for his knowledge, she thought while raising her right hand with half lidded eyes. In her very hands she'd actually felt magic, and as she re-called the memory of how it'd felt, Hermione smiled like a child that discovered candy. A second later, the witch snapped her eyes open and steadied herself. She should really get into bed before she dropped, true but there was something bothering her. Why did it feel like she was forgetting something? Because she was, the box and books Susan had given her was still outside the door. Oh, crap. When Hermione got to the door, she was about to throw it open, but remembering what she was wearing, she paused with her hand on the handle.

Blink of an eye later, Hermione opened the door a little and peered through the gap. When she was sure there was no one outside, she widened the door enough to snatch her things, and then quickly shut it. After the witch had dumped the box and books near her wardrobe, she turned towards the bed once again. Seconds after she'd extinguished the light in the room, the witch got into bed and almost instantly, she found herself wondering what the dresses in the box looked like. Hermione poked her foot out from under the quilt, before pulling it back in and then she lay down, while yawning.

She was too sleepy and tired, she'd look inside the box tomorrow. Hermione pulled the quilt right up to her neck before closing her eyes, and soon the temperature became nice and warm. As she drifted closer to becoming unconscious, her fingers gently stroked the woolly material covering her forearms. The jumper was so soft and insulating, it was great. Just like its real master Tom Riddle was great, no doubt he was evil but he was great. So much power and knowledge at a young age, she wanted all of it. She'd never wanted a boy so much before, never had she come across someone so intelligent, and so handsome at the same time. Such beautiful hair, and those facial features were to die for. Even the way he held himself and moved, was elegant and graceful. He'd looked so sexy with his wild hair, and undone tie.

Suddenly, the wind noisily rattled the window again, and her eyes snapped open. Damn it, stupid weather. With half closed eyes, she took out her wand and temporarily bricked up her window with magic. That should make things much quieter and hold for about an hour, enough for her to fall into deep slumber. As she put away her magical stick, she remembered what she'd thought earlier, and a guilty expression took hold of her face.

Tom Riddle was the dark lord Voldemort, and she did not like or desire him in a way that-arrgh. Of course not, she'd just been sleepy, and teenage hormones must've made her hallucinate, so those thoughts weren't really real.

Yes, right. Why on earth was she breathing so fast? She had to calm down and go to bed. The bushy haired witch took a deep breath, and the second her head touched the pillow, she closed her eyes and tried not to think of anything. After a moment of stillness and peace, Hermione finally fell asleep with her fingers, grasping the green material of the jumper near her chest.

In the morning, Hermione had a pleased look on her face as she ate breakfast. While drinking from a goblet, her eyes wandered to the Slytherin table and a second later, Tom directly looked at her. He lowered the book that'd been held high in his left hand, then he slightly bowed his head, and she instantly returned the stiff nod. The dark lord stared at her for a few seconds before returning to his book, and she was about to look at her plate again, when she realised Malfoy was watching her. The aristocrat was talking to a beautiful blonde haired female, but his eyes were un-mistakably on her.

Bloody Merlin, what the-? Suddenly, Malfoy looked away and placed his eyes on the heir of Slytherin. What the fuck was he up to? Whatever it was, he wouldn't succeed. She'd survived Voldemort and so far, she had successfully manipulated his younger self so Malfoy was nothing in comparison, and she shouldn't waste anymore time on an insignificant, nothing. Hermione placed her attention on her food again, and before she could take another bite, Susan tapped her on the shoulder.

"You seem really happy," the girl started in a high pitched voice, and Hermione's face became the example, of something not happy. "Can I know the reason why?" Susan added in an eager tone.

"I'm very pleased all classes have been cancelled," Hermione started, putting a huge smile on her face. "Due to the Christmas ball tonight, that we're all being forced to attend." she finished in a cold tone.

"I don't believe a word you've said," Susan voiced, rolling her eyes. "You love learning, and a party with free food and music, is not a punishment but a privilege." the girl continued, crossing her arms. Yeah right, a cage of gold was still a cage. Attendance should've been optional, and to make things worse, as a head girl she had to help with the preparations, and supervise students during the ball.

"Fine, whatever you say." the bushy haired witch said in an unbothered tone, while rotating the spoon in her hand.

"You're trying to distract me," Susan said, accusingly. "Something special must've happened last night," she continued, emphasising special.

"You're right, I had a special goodnight sleep yesterday." Hermione said, making her voice high pitched and Susan's eyes widened. "Because it was dreamless after many months of nightmares." she finished with laughter in her voice, and the gossip girl flashed her an angry look.

"Something happened, you just want to keep it a secret." Susan said, pointing a finger.

"Oh dear, I think your overactive imagination is acting up again." Hermione said, shaking her head with a mock worried expression.

"Earlier, I definitely didn't imagine you two wordlessly greeting each other." Susan said, slightly bowing her head before glancing in Tom's direction.

"It might've escaped your notice, but several others saw it too." So what? It wasn't anything romantic or scandalous.

"Oh, that." Hermione said in a bored voice, stirring her porridge. "It's perfectly normal for students or colleagues to greet each other in public."

"I don't remember Tom doing that at breakfast before, which means something's changed between you two." the girl said, stressing change.

True, her continued successful manipulation of the dark lord, had resulted in him behaving more calmly towards her, and if he was in a happy mood, he could act nicer than usual.

"Yes, we've become better acquainted as colleagues." Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"Better acquainted indeed," the girl said, making a face. "Fine keep your secret," Susan said in a cold tone, before facing forward. Hermione resumed eating with a peaceful expression, and after awhile she was about to look in the dark lord's direction, when she stopped herself. Susan was probably spying on her, and she had no desire to encourage that girl's wild theories further.

As her gaze wandered away from the Slytherin table, her vision zoned in on Bones and Longbottom. They were talking more than they were eating, and Bones appeared distressed. "Longbottom's mother works at the ministry. According to a credible source, she's coming to see Dippet today." Susan suddenly said and Hermione put down her spoon. "No doubt she'll pay a visit to her son," the girl continued, and the bushy haired which immediately understood, why the couple in front looked so worked up.

"And want to meet the girl important to her son," Hermione voiced, before drinking some water.

"Yeah, so it's meet the mother day for them." Susan said, shaking her head. "I've heard she's really religious, so she'd obviously want a virtuous wife for her son." the girl added with an expression that appeared to reflect pity.

"I don't think that'll be a problem," Hermione said, picking up her spoon.

"And you're sure because-" Ha, that wouldn't work on her. She'd promised Bones she wouldn't tell anyone, so she wouldn't.

Bones had said they hadn't slept together and though she highly disapproved of fornication, it was their business if they had or hadn't done it.

"We share quarters, she doesn't seem like the scarlet woman type." the bushy haired witch responded, picking up her spoon again.

"But there are so many rumours of-" Susan started.

"Longbottom's the man in all of them, isn't he?" Hermione cut in while raising an eyebrow.

"Yes, but-"

"If he's already made her his like a husband, then it's only right that he take her home."

"You're not wrong, but Mrs Longbottom may not see it that way."

"I'm sure they're still waiting. Rumours are just that, rumours." Hermione added in annoyed tone, before eating a spoonful of porridge. Susan looked like she was about to say something, when someone from the Gryffindor table called the girl away, and the bushy haired witch couldn't help feel glad by her departure.

9 am - 12 pm for Hermione passed blissfully, she's spent that free time being lazy and relaxed. During the early hours she'd soaked in a bathtub for some time, before taking a nap for about an hour, and then she's gone to the library. Afterwards, she'd read a few books while lying on her stomach in bed.

The bushy haired witch was reading a chapter from the Horcrux book, when she realised it was lunchtime and finding herself starved, she got on her feet. The witch was about to open her door, when the box on the floor caught her eyes and in seconds, her curiosity got the better of her. A minute later, the box was open and the dresses that'd been inside, we're now piled on her bed. They were all short-sleeved, long and the neckline wasn't too low. Just as she'd wanted, and the colours weren't bad too. They were all nice, she'd decide later which one to wear. After the dresses were packed in the box again, Hermione set out for the great hall.

As she stuffed her face with food, Hermione wanted to cover her ears and after five more minutes, she wanted to get up and shout shut up. Everyone looked happy and excited about Christmas, and all her ears could hear was talk about tonight's ball, Christmas presents and the family they'd see over the holidays. As the bushy haired witch sipped clear liquid from a goblet, her eyes suddenly watered and trying to blink them away, she made herself drink more water.

Suddenly, the water holder slipped from her hand. But instead of crashing to the table while leaking liquid, the goblet landed gracefully without spilling a drop of water. For a second, Hermione stared with a confused expression and as she heard whispers say the name Riddle, her eyes snapped to the dark lord's usual sitting place. She found him looking right at her, and his wand was pointed in her direction. Ah, so it was his doing. As he lowered his magical stick, Tom slightly bowed his head and she returned the stiff nod. Then they stared at each other with blank expressions, and for reasons she couldn't explain, she suddenly felt a lot better.

After a few seconds, the dark lord began to read the newspaper in his left hand, and as she looked away from the Slytherin table, it came to her attention that Malfoy and many other students, were looking at her and speaking in hushed tones.

Arrgh, why did everyone always think she and Tom were-?, Whatever, they could think what they liked. She didn't bloody care anymore, she had to get out of here. Away from in your face Christmas decorations, and away from all these people. Happy people with friends and family. Hermione got on her feet as her heart felt like it was being squeezed, and before she could hurry towards the door, Susan blocked her path.

"Are you okay?" the girl asked with a concerned expression.

"I don't feel well," the bushy haired witch said in an annoyed tone, as she stepped away from Susan.

"Granger," the girl called as Hermione speed towards the exit, and soon the head girl left the great hall.

Hermione spent a while crying on her bed, in the past Christmas time had made her happy but now, it made her sad as it reminded her of just how alone she was. When her eyes were dry, she spent more time recalling the past and although it was heartbreaking, some memories were bittersweet.

Suddenly, the green jumper hanging on her headboard caught her eyes, causing her to recall the dark lords's actions earlier and it wasn't long, before she remembered how it'd made her feel. How could she-? It wasn't like that, her unconscious mind had just recognised similarities. Tom was also an orphan, without any family on Christmas too and at the time, the fact had kind of been comforting. So it didn't really mean anything, there was nothing to feel guilty about. She had to try and put it all out of her mind, or distract herself until she was mentally numb. Hermione rolled onto her stomach, before summoning a pack of cookies from her bedside drawer, then she read one of the books Susan had given her, as she munched on the biscuits.

After awhile, she used the bathroom and as she stepped back into the bedroom, her eyes fell on the clock. Seconds later, Hermione remembered she was expected at the great hall in half an hour, as she was required to help set up tonight's event with her colleagues, and professors.

If she left now, she'd arrive about 15 to 20 minutes early. That was too much time to wait, or she could get a head start on the basic decorations, which they would surely include. Actually, she didn't want to deal with a friends and family less Christmas any quicker than she had to. No, she couldn't think of them.

After forcing herself to empty her mind, Hermione was about to turn towards her bed when a knock sounded at her door. Who the hell was it at this time? Couldn't they have just owled her, why wasn't she allowed peace on a classless day? When her hand was about to touch the door handle, she paused with an uncertain expression. Was it-? No, it wasn't the dark lord's way. He was more likely to send an imperiused female student, then come knocking himself, but they were on good terms, so it being him was highly unlikely. The knock sounded again but this time it was louder. The bushy haired witch hesitated for a second, then she pulled the door open and found herself face-to-face with Bones. Merlin, was she imperiused?

"I was beginning to think you weren't inside," Bones said with a relieved look. She definitely didn't appear imperiused, thank God.

"Sorry, I was in the bathroom." Hermione said with a cautious expression. Why was Bones-? Arrgh, of course it was to do with the whole meet the mother thing, and the state she'd witnessed the Gryffindor girl in.

"Oh, I see." Bones said, sounding nervous. "If I may be permitted to," the girl continued, while fidgeting with her hands. "I wanted to talk to you about a sensitive matter," she added in a high-pitched voice.

"Of course, please speak without reservation." Hermione responded, putting on an encouraging expression.

"When you witnessed me in a state that appeared-err-" Bones started, before stalling with an embarrassed look. "- improper." she finished, lowering her gaze. "I-erm-I wanted to-" Bones stuttered, looking up.

"I won't tell a soul," Hermione interrupted. "I meant what I said back then, a visit from Longbottom's mother won't change that." she continued, nodding her head side to side.

"I see you're well informed," the girl said, trying and failing to conceal her troubled expression. "It may seem like I'm fussing over something trivial," she added, running a hand through her hair. "The gravity of the situation, someone of your-" Bones abruptly broke off and Hermione's expression darkened. "I mean, you may not completely understand the seriousness." the girl continued, looking a little uncomfortable.

"I think you meant to say, someone of my background and status wouldn't understand." Hermione said in a icy voice, while crossing her arms.

"I apologise for the misunderstanding," Bones said in a slightly rushed voice. "As you grew up in America, I was under the impression that-I'm sorry, it wasn't my intention to offend you." No doubt the girl was lying but it was a good save, she'd kind of forgotten her false background of being brought up in America.

"Blood, status or country won't change the fact that I am a girl, of course I understand the importance of reputation" Hermione said in a cold tone, and she couldn't help the displeased look on her face.

"You're right," Bones said with a high-pitched voice, shaking her head. "I apologise once again for my thoughtless words," she added with an expression that looked sincere. "I'm very stressed. The rumours, I don't know if I can explain in words the impact-"

"I understand," Hermione interrupted in a slightly raised voice. "I have also been the subject of many wild rumours, you must've heard some."

"Yes, but I don't think you can fully understand," the girl said, with a look that appeared apologetic, and Hermione's face changed to reflect slight anger. "As you and Riddle aren't really-" Bones added before pausing with wide eyes, and the bushy haired witch's developing temper instantly calmed.

Ah, Bones meant she wouldn't understand some aspects because she was single in reality, that seemed fair. Why was Bones frozen with that expression? What was-it looked like shock or disbelief but why-? The girl seemed to be looking at something behind her, what in her room could make someone react like that? A second later, Hermione turned around and as she noticed what Bones was staring at, Hermione's heart painfully lurched.

Oh, God. Tom's jumper hanging on her bed's headboard, it'd slipped her mind to conceal that before opening the door. To make things worse, the embroidered Slytherin symbol was visible so there was no room for doubt. Bones must be thinking-arrgh. "I believe I must correct myself," Bones suddenly said in an almost mechanical voice. "I see you're in a position to completely understand even more than I could," the girl continued in a disbelieving tone, and Hermione wanted to disappear from existence.

"It's not what it looks like," the bushy haired witch said in a high-pitched voice, as she spun back around while un-crossing her arms.

"I am not in any position to judge," Bones said, shaking her head. "I'm sure you know what's right and wrong."

"I-we've never-" Hermione started, with her cheeks coloured deep pink from mortification.

"You don't have to go into detail," the girl said, holding up a hand for a few seconds.

"There's nothing of that nature to tell," the bushy haired witch almost snapped.

"Of course," No, it was obvious from her expression she thought otherwise.

"Riddle has never been in my room," Hermione started hotly before realising stress had made her overlook a vital fact. "It's impossible for a male to enter a female's room," she continued, emphasising impossible. "Surely, you remember that ancient rule of Hogwarts?" the bushy haired witch added in a questioning tone, and a guilty expression flashed on Bone's face.

"I remember, I believe you." the girl said shaking her head, and this time she didn't look suspicious in the slightest.

"Good. Because I believed you, even when you came out of Longbottom's room." Hermione voiced, intending it to be more of a remainder than a threat.

"I'm very grateful you did," the girl said, looking a little fearful, and it was obvious Bones felt threatened.

"Then you won't hesitate to do the same for me," the bushy haired witch said before giving the girl a quick smile, hoping it'd lighten the atmosphere.

"Of course not," Bones said, briefly returning the smile.

"Riddle lent me his jumper," Hermione said in an almost defensive tone, and she instantly regretted it.

"I see," Bones said, looking and sounding emotionless. The girl must be faking it, why the hell did she say that? It wasn't normal for boys to lend girls clothes, she'd wanted to explain further to clear any doubts Bones might have, about her being involved with the dark lord, but she may have just done the opposite.

"Nothing immoral happened. That jumper no longer fits him, and nor can it be enlarged." Hermione added in a raised voice, hoping it'd stop Bone's imagination from running wild. "When Riddle learned I don't own a jumper in this cold weather, he offered me his old one." she continued, emphasising old.

"That's very thoughtful of him," Bones said with an un-readable expression.

"I know you're thinking it's not normal," the bushy haired witch said with a stressed look.

"I admit it's unusual," the girl started with a cautious expression. "But if everything is as you say, I don't see anything wrong."

"I'm glad to hear that," Hermione said, appearing a little relaxed. "Those rumours, they aren't true." she added in a voice that came out a high-pitched, when she'd intended otherwise.

"Unlike those that indulge in malicious gossip, I'm willing to believe you." Bones said with a reassuring expression. "Even though you and Riddle are close, I've never seen him-err-" the girl trailed off with an expression that said, she was regretting the words she'd spoken so far. But all Hermione 's mind had registered was' you and Riddle are close', and as Bone's voice repeated in her mind, her pulse quickened.

"Close?" Hermione said in a questioning tone, after keeping her eyelids open for a few seconds.

"I don't mean that in a negative or an inappropriate way." the girl said in a rushed voice, with her eyes wide. "I've never seen Riddle interact so much with another student," Bones added, fidgeting with her hands. "He lends you his handkerchief and clothing, you two study together in the library, and you don't mind supporting him during quidditch. Riddle doesn't seem to mind teaching you complex magic until late, and in my opinion, he has defended or sided with you a few times." the girl listed in a hurried voice, like some machine and as it all sank into Hermione's mind, she suddenly felt slightly dizzy." So-erm- what I was trying to say, is that you and Riddle are very well acquainted." Bones said with an almost nervous expression. "Err-by close, I meant you two are friends." Friends, there was that word again. The dark lord had said they were sort of friends, Oh Merlin. Is that what he thought? Did the dark lord really think they were friends? No, it had to be an act. After all her submissive behaviour and manipulation, he must think that's what she saw them as, and he wanted to use this fake friendship thing, to manipulate her in the future for his personal gain.

Even then, the psycho hadn't said friends. He'd said somewhat friends, like he was unsure or vocally being a complete friend, was too disgusting for him to utter. Whatever, the label didn't bother her. The heir of Slytherin could think what he wanted, as long as he continued to believe she wasn't a threat, so she could murder him with ease in the end. "Last night Riddle said you two are kind of-erm-friends." Bones said in a high pitched voice with a worried expression.

"Yes, we are sort of friends." Hermione said with a slightly unsure look. Obviously that wasn't true, right? No, everything with him was an act. Even now, she'd said that to shut Bones up and to put her out of her misery. Plus, the girl would most likely keep quiet about the jumper thing, if she thought she had leverage too.

"That's what I thought," the girl said with a relieved look. "Because-err-well, men always like to push the boundaries a little and-err-" Oh, no. Was the girl seriously going to bring that up? "Forgive me, I've spoken out of line." Bones said with an apologetic expression. Indeed, all men weren't like Longbottom with only one thing on their mind. Actually, teenage males were horny bastards, but not Tom Riddle. There was no lust in his eyes, he wasn't even tempted to look and he hated touching. Voldemort was asexual, had to be. "He's like that with all girls so it's not you," the girl said before a regretful expression plastered on her face. "I don't mean to imply that you're not desirable," Bones said, looking and sounding apologetic. "I think Riddle' s really pious and shy. Perhaps, over time-erm-I-" Hermione swallowed as she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. No, he was abnormal and asexual, but all the world saw was Saint Riddle. "I'm really sorry- I- "

"Bones, it's okay." Hermione said, interrupting. "I'm not offended." she continued, before giving Bones a small smile. "Riddle's different but in a good way." the bushy haired witch added, crossing her arms. "However odd his behaviour may be, it's never bothered me." she said, shaking her head.

"Perhaps that's the reason why you get on so well," Bones said in a friendly tone. U-huh, except accepting odd behaviour meant being okay with torture, and playing puppet by making him your master.

"Maybe," Hermione said, putting on a clueless expression.

"I guess it's easier when they're pleasant to the eye." Nope, that was far from why she tolerated him.

"I must somewhat disagree," the bushy haired witch said, making a confused expression flash on Bone's face. "Because of his appearance, I've never treated him differently than I would someone else."

"It's no secret that he's extremely handsome. Are you saying, you're not affected by it in the slightest?" Bones asked with an expression of disbelief.

"I recognise he is attractive," Hermione said and after a second, her cheeks coloured deep pink. "But who he is on the inside is more important to me, than what he looks like on the outside." The blackness of a monster's soul could not be overlooked, just because it had a pretty shell and Voldemort or not, it wasn't right to treat someone like a pretty object.

"It's refreshing to hear such a view," Bones said with a smile, but from her expression and tone of voice, it seemed the girl hadn't completely believed her.

Fuck, why had she spoken so much about Tom? She was stressed with the Christmas thing, and un-necessarily talking too much must've been comforting at the time.

"Likewise," the bushy haired witch said, putting on a friendly expression. "It's a nice change to have someone believe me," she added before briefly smiling at the girl. Arrgh, this whole thing with Bones felt wrong.

"I feel fortunate to be that person," Bones said with a pleased expression, and Hermione couldn't help feel the opposite. "Can we agree, that all the un-pleasant and sensitive matters between us, is now settled?" the girl asked, appearing a little tense. Nope, not exactly. Bones knew too much, the girl had said she wouldn't speak of it but it wasn't guaranteed.

"Agreed," Hermione lied, giving her a smile while her fingers discretely reached for her wand.

Hermione quickly turned and shut her room's door, and then she turned back around. Wasn't it wrong too-? No, the girl had no right to know that information. Plus, it wouldn't really harm Bones. "I think something's wrong with my watch," Hermione said, a second after she'd glanced at her wrist watch. "Can you tell me the time?" the bushy haired witch asked, as her left hand secretly pulled out her magical stick.

"Of course," the girl replied, pulling out a pocket watch from her person. While Bones flipped open her clock' s circular metal covering, the Ravenclaw head girl carefully positioned her wand.

"Obliviate," Hermione said, the second Bones slightly bent her head to read the time. The girl looked up with a startled expression and blink of an eye later, her face became expressionless and her eyes un-focused. Without warning, the pocket watch slipped from Bone's hand. As Hermione bent down and picked it up, she suddenly had a feeling of being watched. But when she straightened with a panicked expression, her eyes found no one other than a zoned out Bones.

Damn it, she was scaring herself for no reason. There was clearly no one there, then why-?

"The watch?" Bones suddenly said with a questioning tone, and a confused expression.

"Here, you dropped it." the bushy haired witch said, holding out the pocket watch, as she hid her wand with her other hand.

"Oh," the girl said, running a hand through her hair. "Merlin, stress has made me very clumsy." Bones added, taking back her miniature clock. "It's 2.50 pm," the Gryffindor said, after reading the time.

"Thank you," the bushy haired witch said, as she looked back and forth with a searching look.

"No need, I'm very grateful for all your support." Bones said in a slightly rushed voice.

"Don't worry, everything will stay between us." Hermione said, giving the girl a smile and this time, the bushy haired witch felt more at ease as it involved only the girl's secret. Bones no longer had any knowledge of seeing Tom's jumper in her room, and all the things she'd said about the dark lord, were also missing from the girl's memory.

"Glad to hear that," Bones said, smiling in return but the bushy haired witch's attention was elsewhere. "Granger, is everything okay?" the girl added in a slightly high pitched voice.

"Oh, yes." Hermione said, halting the process of scanning her surroundings with her eyes. "I just can't shake the feeling that I've forgotten something," she lied, creasing her forehead. It was nothing, she was just being bloody paranoid.

"We're expected at the great hall in about ten minutes," Bones said, sounding less on edge.

"Ah, that's it." Hermione voiced, shaking her head.

"Shall we go down together, or I could leave first." the girl said in a slightly un-certain tone.

"Together," the bushy haired witch said with a friendly expression. "After you," she added, curtly bowing her head.

"Happy to oblige," the girl said, returning the stiff nod. Seconds later, Hermione and Bones walked down the stairs, and then out of the common room door.

Hermione found the first few minutes in the great hall with Bones kind of awkward, as they made small talk about the weather and the decorations that were up so far. When Longbottom arrived and stole his girlfriend away, the bushy haired witch couldn't help feel relieved. But it was short lived as loneliness, allowed memories of the past to leak through and as she stared at one of the Christmas trees, it felt like she'd gone back to the Hogwarts of her time. Suddenly, the sound of loud voices talking met her ears, and Hermione immediately wiped the sorrowful expression of her face, while banishing all sad memories.

The bushy haired witch turned around, to find the newly arrived chattering group were prefects and seconds later, Slughorn and Tom entered the great hall. The professor and the dark lord appeared to be talking about something important, so Slughorn must've delayed the Slytherin head boy because he usually arrived well before time. All of a sudden, the noise the prefects were making increased, and someone amongst them laughed out loud. Continuing to converse with the professor, the heir of Slytherin gave the noisy students a disapproving look, while raising his left hand and in seconds, the prefects became silent.

Hermione stared at the students in disbelief, did that naturally happen with no magic? Tom's full attention was back on Slughorn again, but the prefects still weren't uttering a word. Merlin, the young dark lord's command over them was both scary and impressive. If she had done the same as him, she definitely wouldn't have gotten the same reaction. Then again, she hadn't had years to condition them with fear or bewitch them with beauty, which must play a part in his hold over students. Hhmm, he did have a fine looking face. Everything about his appearance was ethereally beautiful, even the way he moved and spoke, was graceful and regal. The great hall door suddenly sprang open, and the noise snapped Hermione out of her thoughts.

What the hell-? Hormonal nonsense, probably going into overdrive since she'd been emotional about her old life today. Blink of an eye later, Herbert Berry made a dramatic entrance and the bushy haired witch stared, unblinking. Wow, the young professor really was something. With his glowing crimson cloak and long black hair, and he was shining with so much confidence, that when he walked it seemed like he was gliding instead. If her hormones were really running wild, that was someone she could stare at without guilt.

Looks like she wasn't the only one, the female prefects eyes were on him too. It wasn't very long before another small group of students entered the great hall, and soon the females amongst them also began to pay attention to the new professor. The two girls at the front were really beautiful, they had the perfect hair, body shape and high cheekbones and were in the same year as her. The bushy haired witch turned away from Berry and his admirers, with a fake not hurt and un-interested expression. No way in Merlin's name could she lie to herself, when it came to how attractive she was.

She wasn't very beautiful, she knew that. With heavy make-up, great clothes and jewellery, she could look kind of nice but so could many other girls. Therefore, it was clear to her that she was nothing special. Hermione cleared the gloomy expression that'd managed to creep onto her face, before paying extra attention to the decorations and the cutlery on the snacks table.

Suddenly, the bushy haired witch noticed something large at the back of the great hall. It appeared to be a medium sized, square shaped platform that was raised kind of high, and a small staircase was connected to it. What the hell was that supposed to be? Probably something to perform on, maybe someone had organised carol singing or live music.

"It's not finished yet," a male voice said, near her right and she almost jumped, startled. As Hermione turned around with a composed expression, she found it was professor Berry and for a second, her startled look managed to make a comeback.

"Oh," Hermione said, tucking her hair behind her ear while feeling a little nervous. It was obvious the place wasn't ready as there were no decorations on it. Crap, the prefects and the group of students that had arrived last, they were all staring in her direction. Why had Beery come up to her? Hadn't she wanted his attention though? Maybe, she should stop deluding herself. He wasn't here because he was attracted to her, probably using her as a shield to ignore the female students, that were annoying him with their staring and comments.

"Is stage fright the reason you didn't sign up for my play?" Berry asked, raising an eyebrow and a confused look flashed on Hermione's face. What was he-? Ah, so that thing was a stage for a Christmas play. Now that explained those extra group of students, they must be here to rehearse but she was sure Beery had never asked her to take part.

"With all due respect, professor. I think you're being a little unfair because I'm certain, you've never asked me to be a part of it." the bushy haired witch said, shaking her head side to side.

"You're right Miss Granger." the young professor said with a smile. "Asking you in person would've been a better idea, than hoping you'd sign up after reading about it on the notice board."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Hermione said with a guilty expression. "I didn't know. I've been so busy, I haven't looked at the notice board for a long time."

"I see," Berry said, placing his hands on the clasp of his cloak. "Would you have taken part if you had known?" he questioned, as he slid of his cloak, and Hermione stopped blinking while her mind momentarily froze.

Sweet Merlin, his clothes were fucking strange, but the way they fit him and brought out the best parts of his body-. Wow, that was a single word to sum it up. Because right now, it was too hard to think up something more complex with that visual feasting her eyes.

Oh, God. He'd asked something and she hadn't replied yet. Christ, what had he-? Erm-the play, yes.

"Maybe someone in the background," Hermione finally replied after composing herself. "I don't think I'm someone who'd do well in the spotlight," she'd probably freeze up or forget her lines, unless it was real life acting involving life and death situations, or the fate of the world.

"I doubt that," Beery said as he drew his wand. "The secret is to believe you are the character, and forget the audience exists," the professor added, while shrinking his cloak to the size of a handkerchief. "I can guarantee it works, outside of Hogwarts I'm a professional actor." he continued before giving her a smile, and her pulse quickened as an expression of disbelief flashed on her face. Holy mother-had he really said that?

"A Herbology professor that's also an actor, it's unusual but impressive." Hermione said in a higher pitched voice than intended, and she couldn't help her lips, from stretching into a wide smile.

"I'm not that multi-talented, Miss Granger." Beery said after a short laugh. "I'm just an actor that's dabbling in teaching," he continued, placing his shrunken cloak inside his pocket. "The money is satisfactory, and I'm also researching a role." the young professor added, taking a step closer to her and the bushy haired witch's breath quickened.

"I think that's kind of multi-talented," Hermione said in a slightly rushed voice, as another huge smile plastered on her face. What the-? She was sounding like one of those lust struck idiotic girls, wasn't she?

"Thank you, Miss Granger," Beery said, giving her a dramatic bow, and she forced herself from breaking out in giggles before smiling slightly. "There's something in your hair," the young professor said, seconds after straightening. "Do you mind if I-?" he started, raising his hand towards her and she momentarily stopped breathing, as her heart rate increased. Suddenly, something lightly touched her head and for a second she was confused, since Beery had yet to make contact. Blink of an eye later, her heart lurched as everything became clear to her. Oh, my-. It was Tom Riddle, he was the one that had-. Oh, God.

"Tinsel," the dark lord voiced, stretching out his right hand and the thin silver strip, held by his thumb and finger, sparkled in the light. "Granger," Tom said, placing his eyes on her and her eyelids froze, as a strange, un-explainable feeling pooled in her stomach. "I hope you can forgive me, if I was too bold in presuming you wouldn't mind." he added, before giving her a smile and her heart skipped a beat.

"No, it's fine." Hermione said in a high pitched voice, that almost came out strangled as she suddenly found it hard to breathe. Bloody Merlin, one look at Beery and Riddle together, was enough for anyone to know that the young dark lord was way more handsome and taller. A fact that hadn't gone un-noticed by other female students, and some were being loudly vocal about it.

"You're a clown," Tom said in a cold tone, shifting his eyes to Beery and for a second, the young professor looked taken aback, while Hermione stood frozen with wide eyes. "From your outfit, I assume that is what you're trying to portray, for tonight's festivities." he continued, in an un-apologetic voice and the bushy haired witch, blinked several times. Good lord, no wonder Berry's clothes were strange. Why hadn't she realised the professor was dressed as one of those medieval jokers, what were they called?

"Young man, I prefer the term jester." Beery said, looking and sounding annoyed. That's it, they were called jesters. Merlin, the dark lord was deviously clever with words. He'd openly insulted the professor but because of the way he'd done it, he couldn't be accused.

"Forgive me, sir." Tom said without looking or sounding apologetic. "I thought the terms were interchangeable," the dark lord added in an almost taunting tone. Beery looked like he was going to say something, when the female substitute professor Farrrow appeared, and after catching her eye, he stiffly nodded his head before smiling at her.

"I hope you can find time to watch tonight's play," the young professor said, placing his eyes on Hermione.

"I won't miss it, sir." the bushy haired witch replied in a cheerful tone.

"I look forward to it," the professor said, bowing his head a little, and she immediately returned the slight bow.

"Riddle," Beery said in a icy voice and an expression of dislike, as he gave the dark lord a stiff nod. While Tom returned the curt bow, Beery averted his eyes in time to miss the heir of Slytherin's physical response, and as the young professor walked away, Tom rolled his eyes with his neck straight again.

"I won't miss it," he suddenly said, repeating what she'd to Berry. "How can you be so sure?" he continued in a challenging tone, raising an eyebrow and Hermione paled. Christ, had she said something wrong, was he angry?

"I'm not," the witch answered in a cautious voice. "I just said that to show I'm highly interested," Damn it, why did she have to add that?

"Are you?" the heir of Slytherin asked, as he threw away the piece of tinsel that'd been in her hair. What the-? Was he jealous of the attention Beery had-of course not, at least not like that. "It's natural to be curious," he said, creasing his forehead as he crossed his arms. "I too am interested, in seeing how well the clown performs at the circus." he added in a humorous tone, before giving her a toothy smile and a second later, she returned the smile feeling relieved.

He wasn't angry, he'd just been messing with her. Thank God, he was finding the whole thing funny. "I've assigned the prefects with simple tasks," Tom said, glancing towards them and Hermione realised, she'd been talking to Beery longer than she'd thought, if she'd missed the dark lord talking to the prefects. "Let's finish the icicles at the front," he continued, gesturing towards the right and soon, they made their way there.

For some time, Hermione worked in silence with the dark lord and as there was no negativity, she found the lack of speech wasn't uncomfortable, but peaceful instead. When all her decorating tasks were complete, the bushy haired witch was about to put her wand away, when some fallen holly leaves caught her eye and she suddenly had the urge to levitate them. When the first leaf was in the air, Hermione hesitated before trying to get a second leaf to join, and after a few seconds, it lifted a few inches of the ground.

A few minutes later, the progress was another two inches and she was about to give up, when a handful of holly leaves that were still on the ground rose up high into the air and she almost jumped, as a startled expression settled on her face. What the-? Riddle, had to be. Hermione turned around to find it really was the dark lord, and she couldn't help give him a death glare. His already slightly amused expression became more potent, until a huge smile appeared on his face, and seconds later it proved infectious as her lips fashioned to reflect a small smile.

"Were you hoping to achieve something like this?" Tom said, in a tone that was more humorous than taunting.

"I'm not that delusional, to think I could've levitated more than two leaves that high up." Hermione said, rolling her eyes before ceasing her levitation spell, and the two leaves it'd been holding up began to fall. But the dark lord snatched them with his magic before they touched the ground, and then he made all the levitating leaves speedily move in a circle. "Impressive," she said grudgingly. "You're brilliance isn't a secret, but I'm still thankful for the display." she continued in a slightly sarcastic tone, while trying to keep an irritated expression of her face. Bloody show off, why was he so good at everything?

"Thank you for the compliment," Tom said, flicking his wand and the leaves circling in the air, suddenly charged towards her. Hermione almost jumped as she pulled out her wand, but before she could do any magic, the holly leaves harmlessly showered over her before disappearing.

"Vanishes upon contact, so no mess and they don't hurt." The dark lord voiced, stating the obvious with a highly amused expression. Arrgh, that'd been kind of scary, even if it was for mere seconds.

"Riddle," the bushy haired witch started hotly. "Erm-I-err," He hadn't meant that as an attack, that was obvious. Even if she was annoyed, best not to say anything because his happy, playful mood could change for the worst. "That was - - err-nice, but slightly scary if you're not prepared." she added, in a cautious voice as she put her wand away once more.

"It wasn't my intention to create fear," Tom said, lowering his wand. "Hope you can excuse my thoughtless action," he added, curtly bowing his head before giving her a smile.

"It's-err-fine," Hermione said in a slightly rushed voice, what the-why was she talking like that? It was him, he was doing the Mr nice guy act again, and it was freaking her out.

Then again, it did make her life easier. Whether he had an ulterior motive, or a Jekyll and Hyde type split personality sometimes, it didn't matter as long as he thought she was harmless, and she wasn't getting tortured.

Hermione suddenly realised a lot of eyes were on her, some people were staring and some were sneaking glances. Beery caught her eyes for a few seconds, he gave her a smile before placing his eyes on Farrow, and the female substitute professor quickly glanced in her direction, with an annoyed expression. "Did you practice?"Tom suddenly questioned, making her look at him again.

"Yes, a little in the morning." The bushy haired witch lied, feeling a little under pressure. At the beginning of the day she'd avoided thinking of practicing, she'd been afraid of it not working, and her having to do the whole process of feeling magic again.

"Practice for at least five minutes a day," the dark lord said, as he eyed the icicles they'd made with a satisfied look. "You'll see a huge improvement within a month," he added, looking at her again.

"I will," Hermione said, nodding her head.

"Let's see how they've done," Tom said, gesturing towards the other end of the great hall and soon, she and the dark lord walked towards the chattering group of prefects, almost side by side. After awhile, all her duties and work was done, and Hermione was free to exit the great hall.

As she made her way towards the door, her eyes searched for the heir of Slytherin and seconds later, she found him talking to Dippet. When had the headmaster arrived? Must've been when she was correcting some of the prefects mistakes, when Hermione was seconds away from leaving, Tom caught her eye and he slightly nodded his head at her, while continuing to converse with Dippet. The bushy haired witch curtly bowed her head in return, blink of an eye later Tom looked at the headmaster again, and in a few seconds Hermione stepped out of the great hall.

Hermione wanted to put her feet up and rest. She was looking forward to it but seconds later, she realised it wouldn't happen as around this time she was meant to go to the Ravenclaw common room, to help Susan, her friends and herself get ready for the ball.

After a while, Hermione was with them, and she had to work hard, to keep irritation and anger from showing on her face. She'd expected the gossiping but the heavy teasing was getting to her. Why the hell did almost everyone, see her and the dark lord as a secret couple? She had no idea and it was so bloody annoying.

When she and all the girls had finished their make-up, Hermione thought the atmosphere would get better but instead, things got even worse. Everyone was showing off their dress and changing into it, she'd genuinely forgotten to bring her outfit but it was obvious, they all thought she was lying. Soon there were vocal comments and assumptions that made Hermione's blood boil, and the most annoying ones were that, she might have a problem with the dress's designer. The bushy haired witch really didn't care if the dress wasn't expensive, or if the designer wasn't well known. Hermione could clearly re-call that she'd mentioned last time she was okay with borrowing Hayley's cousin's dress, and who had made it or what it was worth was information she'd never cared to inquire about.

It wasn't long before Hermione was at the exit, with her full make-up and hair done. "Granger," Susan's voice called when she was about to step outside, and the bushy haired witch had to stop herself from swearing out loud. "If you ever want to talk about anything, I will always make time for you." the girl added with a smile, and even though the head girl knew Susan kind of had an ulterior motive, she couldn't help soften a little.

"Thank you, I will keep that in mind." Hermione replied, giving the girl a smile, and Susan immediately smiled back.

"See you later," the girl added, as she prepared to leave once again. "Can't wait to see you two, I mean you." The girl said out loud as Hermione walked away, and the head girl shook her head side to side without halting. Merlin, some things never changed and Susan was one of them.

Soon the bushy haired witch arrived at the heads quarters, and she was about to enter but the sound of voices talking inside, made her hesitate. It was Longbottom, Bones and Riddle. She was sure of it, but if they were conversing near the door at this time, then that must mean they were all ready to leave. Which meant she was late and her dress wasn't even on. Oh, Merlin.

Would that make the dark lord angry? It'd only take her a minute or two to get dressed, and if that was too long for him, then he could leave before her. Since it was a minor issue, he shouldn't get mad, right?

"You look lovely, dear." a female voice suddenly said, and Hermione almost jumped, before realising it was Persephone in the painting guarding the entrance. "Password," she asked with a questioning look, as she ran her eyes up and down. The head girl was about to answer when she realised, the voices coming from the common room had gone silent. Had they heard the painted Goddess?

"That must be Granger," Longbottom's voice sounded as if on cue. Oh, crap. Hermione barely had a second to prepare herself, while the lock on the entrance snapped open from the inside.

As the door opened to reveal the person responsible for the action, her breath caught in her throat and her heart lurched. It wasn't Longbottom like she'd expected, it was Tom Riddle. They stared at each other, frozen and every second felt like a minute to Hermione. "Granger," Longbottom's voice said, as he appeared over the dark lord's shoulder and a second later, he greeted her with a stiff nod. But the Ravenclaw head girl failed to notice, as she blinked a few times while her mind normalised to reality, and Tom also seemed to be coming out of his immobilised state. Blink of an eye later, the dark lord slightly bowed his head and Hermione realised, Longbottom had greeted her like this first, but responding to Tom was priority, because she couldn't risk making him mad. Besides, the heir of Slytherin had opened the door first.

The bushy haired witch curtly bowed her head towards the dark lord and she didn't know why, but her head felt like it'd doubled in weight. When she repeated the action in Longbottom's direction, the heavy feeling was surprisingly gone and she was glad to see the Hufflepuff head boy, didn't appear offended at being greeted last.

"You look lovely, Granger." Bones said, stepping forward before giving her a stiff nod.

"You too, Bones." Hermione said, returning the slight nod.

"We'll leave first," The Gryffindor head girl said, clasping her boyfriend's hand. "We won't interrupt you further from getting dressed," she added, giving Longbottom a look that clearly signalled something.

"Ah, of course." the Hufflepuff head boy said in a slightly un-comfortable tone, as he raised an eyebrow. What the hell were they-? Arrgh, they thought she hadn't worn her dress on purpose, because she'd wanted an excuse to get help from Tom while putting it on. Yuck, no.

"That is, if you don't mind, Riddle." Bones said in a voice with a curious undertone.

"Not at all," Tom said, nodding his head and Hermione momentarily stopped blinking. Merlin, she didn't need him to wait for her. Couldn't he see he was adding fuel to rumours that were-? Maybe, maybe not or he just didn't care. She did but she was powerless to control the dark lord's actions. "Go ahead, we'll be behind you shortly." the dark lord added, holding the door open for the couple, and the bushy haired witch couldn't help feel mortified.

"I meant to put my dress on after the make-up, I forgot." Hermione added in a rushed voice. "Sorry for making everyone late," she continued in a lower voice. Crap, by saying all that she appeared more guilty, didn't she?

"Granger, Riddle always plans for us to be extremely early." Bones started in a disbelieving tone. "So we won't be late, you have plenty of time." she added, emphasising time and Hermione wished the earth would swallow her up.

"We'll see you soon" Longbottom said with an uneasy expression, as he led his girlfriend out the door.

"We shall indeed," The dark lord said nearing the exit and the second he shut the door, Hermione's breath caught in her throat.

When he turned to face her, she slowly inhaled and exhaled a lungful of air. What the hell was wrong with her, why was her heart beating so fast? Things had been peaceful between them and he didn't even look angry. He looked-Merlin, she'd been so distracted that she'd missed so much. He didn't just look good, he looked magnificent. He was wearing a fitted and buttoned up tailcoat, with matching trousers and the material appeared to be some sort of raw silk, that had a metallic silvery grey colour and his shirt and cravat tie were white, and appeared to be made of satin. Together with his perfect face, hair and tallness, he looked extremely handsome. His pale skin and un-naturally long fingers, made his beauty seem otherworldly. The candle light in the room and his almost shimmering outfit with tones of silver, grey and white, made him appear like some Moon God that had descended on earth.

"Granger," the attractive being suddenly said, snapping her out of her thoughts and she blinked several times, as she forced her eyes to the ground with a guilty expression. What the hell was she-? Hormones, nerves, fear and stress, that is what it was and she did not personally like him like that. Merlin, he'd addressed her and she'd been staring at the floor for how long?

"Sorry," Hermione said, snapping her head up. "There was something in my eye," she lied, briefly touching her right eye lash.

"I see," Tom said, taking a step closer to her and she bit the inside of her cheeks. "Your eyes-" he added in a soft voice, looking right into them and she stopped blinking, as she took in a deep breath. "They don't appear irritated or watery," the heir of Slytherin continued in a factual tone and even though she felt alarmed, she didn't let it show on her face.

"It's make-up magic." The bushy haired witch suddenly blurted out. Fuck, that wasn't right. "Err- -magic make-up," Yikes, what the hell was she saying? "I mean-erm-cosmetic spells that-"

"Preserve the cosmetics applied in all conditions, over a fixed period of time." he interrupted, finishing her sentence and lost for words, she nodded her head in agreement. "They've certainly worked in your favour," Tom said, slightly tilting his head to the left and a strange feeling fluttered in her chest, as her cheeks coloured deep pink. That was his way of saying she looked good, wasn't it? Did he really think-? Merlin, what was she-? She didn't really care, not one bit. He was acting, she knew she wasn't beautiful. At best, he must be thinking her appearance was slightly improved than before, not that she cared if it was true or not. "You look presentable enough to be seen in society," the heir of Slytherin voiced, un-tilting his head and Hermione slightly creased her forehead, as his words repeated in her mind. "Almost," he added, in a cold and careless tone. But his mischievous expression gave away, he wasn't serious and it was never meant as an insult. Even then, she couldn't help the nearly annoyed look on her face.

"Thank you," The bushy haired witch said in a stiff voice. "Forgive me. I can't say the same for you, as you always look presentable." Hermione continued, in a tone she used when stating facts from a text book.

"Is that so?" the Slytherin voiced, elongating the words before an overly pleased expression appeared on his face, and in seconds she realised her error.

Arrgh, she hadn't meant to say she thought he always looked handsome. That is what he was thinking, right?

"According to what you've said, it's always." Tom said, raising an eyebrow and her face suddenly felt hot. "Therefore, it can be said that I'm very presentable right now." he continued with a smug look and the bushy haired witch, opened and closed her mouth without voicing any words. Uh, he was insufferable. No matter what it was, he just couldn't accept defeat. She'd tried to say he didn't deserve a compliment, because he always kept his appearance to high standards and still, he managed to fish one out by twisting her words.

"I never meant to imply otherwise," the witch said, slightly making a face. Just because she hadn't wanted to say it outright, didn't mean she was denying he looked fit to be seen. But better to say it, just in case he misunderstood and got mad.

"Granger, when it comes to clothes-" Tom started, putting his hands inside the pockets at his sides, and Hermione unconsciously thinned her lips. With his hands tucked in like that, he looked so cute and the only thing missing was an adorable wink. "You look anything but presentable," He finished, shaking his head side to side and the bushy haired witch blinked a few times. Merlin, when had her mind become so-? Eww, never. He'd said something, what had he-? Ah, yes.

"Sorry, I'll go up and change that right now." Hermione said, raising a hand towards her room.

"Don't take too much time," the young dark lord said in a commanding tone, but the half smile he added at the end, made it more of a suggestion than an order.

"I won't" the bushy haired witch said before smiling at him briefly, and then she turned on her heels and hastily made her way towards her room.

Soon, the box with the dresses was open and three outfits were lying on her bed. They were all full length with sleeves and decent necklines, like she'd requested. One of them was silver coloured satin with matching lace gloves, the other had a final layer made up of a white net like fabric, and capped sleeves and the final dress, was pale gold with dark gold bead work all over and the material seemed to be chiffon.

It took her less than 30 seconds to make the decision. The silver and white dress matched with Tom and that was a big no, because she didn't want to fuel the rumours of them being a secret couple. That left her with the gold and it really was the best one, as the fabric was comfortable and it didn't have any annoying accessories, like gloves and the sleeves were proper sleeves, not capped ones.

It wasn't very long before Hermione was dressed and after a look in the mirror, a satisfied expression appeared on her face. Suddenly, she had the urge to do a twirl. Once she'd complied, she found her reflection had a visage with a huge grin. Why did she look so-? Hermione forced her eyes away from the mirror with a slightly worried look, something was wrong with her. That strange excited feeling, what was the meaning of that? Nothing, just happiness and she was happy because everything was going smoothly, right? Yes, because the dark lord didn't consider her a threat and trivial stuff, like the Christmas ball was sorted.

Excellent, now it was time to leave. When Hermione's hand touched the door handle, she froze and her breath quickened. Why was she hesitating, what was wrong with her? She must be tired and her body was trying to let her mind know. Yes, that's it. Tough luck, she had no choice but to make it through tonight. The witch took a deep breath, then she pulled the door open and stepped outside.

As she approached the staircase, a nervous feeling washed through her and she unconsciously swallowed. When Hermione descended a few steps down, she was relieved to find Tom's back facing towards her. Because she didn't quite feel ready to be seen and she couldn't understand or explain why.

"You have returned significantly earlier than I anticipated," the Slytherin voiced, without looking at her as she arrived on level ground, and the head girl momentarily stopped blinking.

"I did agree not to take too much time," Hermione said in a voice that sounded slightly high pitched, when she hadn't intended it to. Ah, why?

"Too much time," he said, partially repeating her words as he raised his right hand. "The length of that isn't specified," he continued, tapping his wristwatch. "As it's subject to individual interpretation," the Slytherin added, lowering his hand. "One could be somewhat surprised by what they view as a hasty return,"

"As always, you're right." the head girl said, rolling her eyes. Was he trying to be funny or was it a superiority type thing?

"A lot of the times you're also right," he said, tilting his head to the left and Hermione blinked in disbelief. Wow, he was being nice, why? "However, your dress sense-" he started in an unsure voice, un-tilting his head and she couldn't help make a face. "Well, that remains to be seen." Tom said, turning around with a smile on his face and she momentarily stopped breathing, as a strange feeling enveloped her.

A second later, the teenage dark lord's expression went blank and his eyes widened. A confused look appeared on Hermione's face, as she wondered why he looked like he was staring at the face of death itself. Surely, she didn't look that bad? Why did it feel so cold? The head girl suddenly realised she was exhaling misty cloud forms, if she could see her breath then the temperature really was -it wasn't normal for it to become that low so fast. Oh, God, something was really really wrong. As the air around young Voldemort cackled with static energy, his face took on an expression so terrifying that it surpassed all the others she'd seen before, and she stepped back with a fearful look, while her hand instinctively went towards her wand. But the dark lord magically snatched it before her fingers could even touch it, and she couldn't help gasp in fright.

God in heaven, why was he-? Hermione froze as Tom pointed his wand at her with a shaky hand and her heart painfully lurched, when he began to advance towards her while hissing in Parseltongue. Raising her hands, she tried to run backwards and with his long strides, he easily caught up with her. "Sssaa-laa-hesshha-how dare you-ssillaa-heessha-" the dark lord voiced, sounding and looking possessed and his half human and half serpent speech, made the hair on her arms stand as her breath quickened. "-wear that-sshaalaa-in my presence," he shouted, looking away from her as he flicked his wand towards the window.

A loud bang rang through the air and Hermione cried out in fright, while being thrown to the ground before something heavy and dusty settled on her. Almost hyperventilating, she rapidly blinked and it took her a few seconds to realise, the dark lord had ripped of the curtains and covered her neck to toe with them. Christ, her clothes-why? He was fucking insane.

"Sorry. It's-it's just a dress, like many-many others are wearing." she stuttered, in an almost whispering voice. An apology should calm him down and once she changed, everything should be fine. "If-if you dislike it so-so much, I can-can go up and-" Hermione began to add.

"Shut up," Tom screamed, dropping to his knees before punching the floor with his fists, while hissing loudly and she flinched with a frightened look. "Heesshhaa-just a dress-sslaahaa" he shouted, jabbing his wand into the ground and from his unsteady voice mixed with Parseltongue, it seemed he was finding it hard to form words in human language.

"Riddle," Hermione whispered, hugging herself under the window coverings. "I'm-I'm sorry, I-I-" Suddenly, he turned towards her and he appeared like he hadn't heard a word she'd said. The mad glints in his eyes, and the anger and hatred twisting his handsome features, made him look inhuman. As the dark lord raised his magical stick with an almost animalistic snarl, her eyes widened and a terrified expression plastered on her face.

"P-please," she whimpered, lifting her hands but her voice seemed to fall on deafened ears, as young Voldemort showed no signs of mercy.

"It's-sss- not just a dress-sss-," he suddenly shouted, bringing his wand down with force and as it made contact with her body, Hermione screamed in pain. "It's-sss- a muggle dress-sss-," the dark lord yelled, hitting her with his magical stick again and a loud screech escaped her throat. "Des-sss-igned by Claire McCardell, a muggle" he bellowed, striking her once more. She yelped in response but this time, the shocked state she'd been in started to wear off, and Hermione realised he wasn't using a spell on her, he was physically beating her with his hands.

A piercing sensation shot through her chest, followed by feelings of betrayal and humiliation. She wasn't being crucioed, this was heavenly in comparison but the emotions burning her heart, were like she'd never experienced before.

"I didn't know," she forced out, in a weak and cracked voice. Seconds later, tears flooded her eyes and she couldn't help the loud cry that escaped her throat. All she wanted to do was cry and cry, until she drowned in a river of her salty water. She wanted to pour all her pain into her eyes, and disappear from existence. Hugging herself, she screamed as she sobbed louder and louder, and her flooded vision made her almost blind. When the water wells in her eyes seem to be drying up, she continued to wail and force sounds from her hoarse throat. She didn't know how long she'd been like this, but she didn't want to stop.

A sudden clattering sound made her flinch, and her swollen eyes jumped to the source. As they focused on Tom, her pain seemed to comeback with renewed vigour, and her tear ducts managed to squeeze out a few more drops of salty water.

The dark lord was on his knees, his wand was on the floor and he was staring at his hands with a horrified expression.

Suddenly, he hissed in Parseltongue with his fingers shaking and her shoulders jumped.

"I-I-" the heir of Slytherin stuttered in a low voice, dragging his knees a little towards her.

"No," Hermione whispered, defensively raising her hands with a frightened look, as her eyes watered once more. "I borrowed it, I didn't know," she added, in a trembling voice that was barely audible. It all made sense now, the comments of why she may not want it, and how they were similar. Susan's friend Hayley had given her a muggle designer dress from a muggleborn. This so called cousin wasn't poor, but very rich and using her money to gain acceptance wherever she could. "I didn't know," Hermione repeated in a whispering voice, shaking her head side to side with a distressed look.

"Granger, I-" Tom started in an unsteady, high pitched voice. He must've sensed the truth from her mind by now, and still it was entirely her fault for not knowing, wasn't it?

"I-I'm sor-sorry," she stuttered before bursting into tears again. They weren't just empty words, but the apologetic feelings were directed more at herself.

She was really sorry for believing he could occasionally be more human, it had all been good acting and nothing else.

"I shouldn't have-," the dark lord began in a low voice, placing his eyes on his hands. "I wasn't entirely myself, I-" he continued, shaking his head and for some reason, his words felt like another knife to her back.

"No," Hermione hissed, as the crushing anger in her heart suddenly made her recklessly brave. "That was you, the real you." She added venomously and a hateful expression took over her face.

"That's-that's not-" Tom started, touching his temples and then for a few seconds, he seemed to be talking to himself in Parseltongue. "You don't understand," he suddenly shouted, punching the wall near her head and she couldn't help gasp in fear, as she slid an inch away from him. "I-I didn't mean-," the dark lord began, pulling his hand back to his side. "You don't understand," he repeated in a low voice, looking genuinely distressed. He was acting, wasn't he? Of course he was, Tom was Voldemort.

"Everything's my fault, I'm sorry." Hermione almost whispered, as fresh, warm tears soaked her cheeks once more. "I'm sorry," she added, pulling the ripped curtains right up to her neck. Sorry she was for having been a complete fool, to have ever thought he possessed a softer side, with those that were weak and submissive to him.

Truth was, there was no order to the chaos of his madness. He liked playing sick games with people's minds and emotions, he was probably laughing at her inside his head right now, while putting on this play of 'oh no, I lost control'. Yes, she understood now but for some reason, her heart couldn't be consoled. No matter how close she was to being de-hydrated, she just wanted to cry and cry.

Suddenly, Hermione realised the heir of Slytherin was too close to her. After a second, he pulled out a handkerchief and she swiftly moved out the way, before he could use it on her. He attempted again and she moved away once more.

"Stop that," Tom hissed, scrunching the handkerchief into a ball, and she couldn't help flinch.

"No," she whispered, mustering courage from her sadness as he tried to bring the square cloth near her again.

"Stop it, just stop it." The dark lord shouted, raising his hands.

"Or what, you'll hit me again." The witch said venomously as anger made her brave, and his hands immediately dropped to his sides, as he shook his head to say no with an anguished look.

She clenched her teeth while staring at his expression and her rage reached boiling point. "You stop it," she suddenly shouted, clenching her fists and her voice seemed to have a desperate undertone. He stared at her with wide eyes, and his face took on an appearance she couldn't understand. Was this madness of the moment or the fact that his wand was on the floor? She didn't know, all she knew was she had to throw out the words tormenting her

heart. "Stop acting, stop manipulating" Hermione hissed, pointing her index finger. "Be what you really are," she continued, emphasising really as she lowered her hand, and his forehead seemed to crease a little. "When there's no audience," the witch began, with a hateful look. "Stop pretending you can be human even for a moment," she added emphasising moment, and the dark lord turned his face away from her view, fuelling her longing to speak her mind even more. "You're a monster without conscience," Hermione continued, raising her voice.

"Shut up," Tom shouted, jumping to his feet and she couldn't help gasp in fright. He let out a hiss while kicking a small table and as it toppled over, her eyes widened.

Suddenly, he lunged towards her and she tried to slide away, but he effortlessly captured her by grabbing her clothed shoulders. "You have no idea what a real monster's like," he yelled, shaking her and she shrieked in fear and pain, as her head repeatedly hit the wall. "You have no idea," he repeated with a crazed look, as he squeezed her shoulder bones with force.

"I'm sorry, it hurts." Hermione said shakily, before bursting into tears and he immediately released her. He looked at his hands with a lost expression, and shook his head side to side.

Without warning, he touched her shoulders again.

"Riddle, please." She cried out, trying to wriggle out of his grasp.

"I-I'm-" Tom stuttered, pulling the curtain covering right up to her chin again and she froze. "I'm sorry," he said, removing his hands with a tormented expression and as the bushy haired witch sniffed away some tears, a defeated look settled on her face.

"Not necessary," the witch said in a low voice. "I'm worthless and there's no audience." She added, as her eyes filled with salty water once more.

"Granger," the dark lord said in a tone that sounded like he was pleading with her, to see the sincerity of his apology. Of course there was none, he was enjoying every minute of her misery, wasn't he?

"You said you wouldn't crucio me," the witch suddenly said and she couldn't help the accusing tone. The heir of Slytherin's hands turned into fists, and it looked like he wanted to say something. "I had no idea it meant, I wasn't worthy of being tortured with magic." she added in a tearful voice and the dark lord made a hissing sound, as he momentarily touched his temples. "That I was an animal, deserving only of being beaten like a muggle." Hermione said breathlessly and she couldn't help burst into tears again.

A tortured expression plastered on Tom's face, and made her want to cry even more. She wanted to kill him right now, he was still fucking acting. But she was powerless so all she could do was wail and sob in sorrow.

"No," the dark lord said, shaking his head. "No, no" he repeated, moving closer to her, and she moved as far away as she could. "You-you don't understand," he said with a troubled expression. "You can't-I can't," he almost shouted, running his hands through his hair, and she took in a sharp intake of breath before continuing to cry. "You're wrong," Tom hissed, looking hurt and angry at the same time and she couldn't help flinch. "I'm also wrong," he added with a regretful expression. "Very very wrong," he continued, looking lost as he curled and un-curled his fingers. Then he repeatedly tapped his knuckles against the floor, while speaking to himself in Parseltongue and she sniffed as more tears flooded her vision.

Suddenly, he froze then he looked right at her with wide eyes and in that moment, she knew exactly what was on his mind and she almost had a heart attack. "Granger," he said questioningly with an un-readable expression, and she couldn't help gasp in fright.

"Riddle, please don't-" Hermione said in a terrified voice, raising her hands defensively. Merlin, he'd realised she hadn't been shocked in the slightest by his Parseltongue.

"I don't want to-" Tom started, also raising his hands before momentarily closing his eyes. "I won't hurt you," he added, moving back a few centimetres. "The hissing sounds, you know what it is." The Slytherin said, lowering his hands and his tone wasn't inquiring.

"I do," Hermione said, also lowering her hands. "It's Parseltongue," she added in a cautious tone, and a slightly shocked expression flashed on his face.

"That doesn't scare you," the dark lord said, raising an eyebrow.

"A language, no." the bushy haired witch said before rapidly blinking. "You, yes." She added with anger creeping into her voice, and her eyes moistened again. Soon her cheeks were drenched in tears, and he turned his face away from her view.

After a couple of seconds, he looked at her again with an expressionless face before sliding closer to her. Trying to get away from his reach once more, she moved back until her body hit the wall and when she tried to slither away sideways, he blocked her by stretching his arm and placing his hand on the wall.

"Spare me," Hermione said, pulling the curtain covering up to her chin once more. She'd intended her tone to be hostile but instead, she'd sounded like she was begging.

"It wasn't my intention to hurt you," the Slytherin said in a soft voice, as he held up his handkerchief again.

"No," the witch said, shaking her head and this time she did sound hostile.

"I won't harm you," the dark lord said with a pleading tone, as he brought the square cloth closer to her face and when she tried to move away, he put his hand in her hair and made her head tilt backwards.

"Release me," the witch said acidly through clenched teeth, and Tom acted like he hadn't heard a word.

"You're not worthless," Tom voiced, as he gently touched her face with the handkerchief.

"That's what being powerless is," she said angrily, pointedly looking towards his hand in her hair. "No one recognises your worth without it," she added in a bitter tone, before bursting into tears once again and he immediately pulled his hands off her.

"I-I know I was wrong," he said in a low voice, moving back a few centimetres. "I couldn't-you don't understand," he added in a high pitched voice, pulling at the ends of his handkerchief.

A couple of seconds passed, with him staring at her with a lost and distressed expression, while she silently cried. "Don't cry anymore," Tom suddenly said and it only made her cry even more. The feelings of deep betrayal in her heart just wouldn't go away, and she didn't know why. She'd always known Tom was Voldemort, capable of the most evil things and yet, she couldn't help feel like this. "I said don't cry," the dark lord shouted without warning, ripping his handkerchief in two.

Hermione stared at the divided cloth square with wide eyes, as her breath quickened while she tried to suppress her body from making crying sounds. He was completely insane, best not to provoke him further. "Sorry," the Slytherin said in a low voice, placing the torn handkerchief in his pocket. "I just want you to stop hurting," he added with a frustrated look, as he ran a hand through his hair.

"I see," the bushy haired witch whispered. "Everything's my fault, I'm sorry." She continued in an emotionless voice and unfocused watery eyes, she was very much at fault for having seen non-existent humanity in a lunatic psycho. "I, an insignificant and powerless person," Hermione added, emphasising powerless. "Beg your forgiveness," she added in a softer voice and his expression went blank. Hopefully, that should stroke his ego and get him to leave her the hell alone, without further harming her.

"Granger, don't." Tom suddenly said, shaking his head and his eyes were focused on the floor. Her pulse quickened and she couldn't help feel little afraid. Merlin, did her occulumency weaken and allow him to sense her insincerity? "Don't talk like that," he elaborated, and she immediately felt slightly relieved.

"I shouldn't talk like that?" the witch said questioningly in a voice that was also cold, as hatred over powered her feelings.

"No," Tom said in a high pitched voice, shaking his head again. "Be how you used to be," he said, looking her in the eye with a lost expression, and as all her feelings of betrayal and anger re-ignited, she wanted to scream while her eyes threatened to spill water again.

"How one used to be," she said in a low voice, as memories of the past tried to come to the front of her mind. "I doubt that's possible," Hermione said, raising her voice as she mentally forced herself away from memory lane.

Miraculously, she was back to how it used to be, but she'd never be the same person she used to be. The dark lord turned his hands into fists while his face became emotionless again, but an intense haunted look seemed to saturate his eyes. The busy haired witch's anger reached boiling point again, that shell of a human, monster psycho was mad at her, for not being able to switch off her emotions after all he'd done to her.

"You want me to stop hurting," Hermione suddenly started in a cold tone. "Even if you force my eyes to be dry," she added with disgust creeping into her voice. "No tears, doesn't mean no pain." she continued, raising her voice and his fingers un-curled. "You're intelligent enough to know that," Hermione almost shouted, as a hateful and accusing expression plastered on her face.

Tom closed his eyes as a hiss escaped his lips, and the bushy haired witch's heart lurched. Christ, she shouldn't have said that. "Sorry, I'm sure you meant well." she added, in a hasty voice that was almost shaky. "Have mercy on me, I'd like to be alone." Hermione continued, in a fearful tone as the dark lord opened his eyes. "Please," she finished in a low voice, as a tearful look took hold of her face, and he continued to stare at her like a lifeless statue.

"Granger," Tom suddenly said, sliding closer to her.

"I'm sorry," the witch said in an unsteady voice, as her eyes watered once more.

"Longbottom and Bones, and the professors must be wondering-" she added in a desperate tone before trailing off. He might take it as a threat, best not to complete the sentence. "I'm sorry," she repeated in a high pitched voice.

"I-" Tom started before momentarily closing his eyes. "Hurting you, causing you pain. It was never my intention," he said, looking and sounding apologetic. Surely, it was all an act but for some reason, it managed to make a tear escape onto her cheek. "Being how you used to be," he added, holding up one half of his torn handkerchief. "You're not completely right about that," the Slytherin continued, pressing the piece of cloth to her face and this time, Hermione let him dry her face as a questioning look appeared on it.

At this point, she was too tired, stressed and sad, to automatically want to deeply analyse what he'd said, but she immediately disagreed with being wrong. "How it used to be," he added, removing the torn handkerchief from her face. "For you," he said, lowering his hand, and then he seemed to hesitate for a second. "For us," Tom suddenly said, elongating the word us as an unreadable expression flashed on his face, and Hermione stopped blinking while her heart began to race. "It's still possible," he added with a determined expression, and her eyelids rapidly closed and opened, but her mind was still stuck on the word us.

"Us?" she forced out in a questioning and disbelieving tone, as she worked hard to keep the alarmed and horrified look off her face.

"In addition to being colleagues," the heir of Slytherin started, fidgeting with the half handkerchief and she momentarily stopped breathing. "Aren't we sort of-" he began to continue with a slightly unsure tone.

"No," Hermione interrupted in a loud voice and for a second, he looked angry and hurt.

"I'll fix us," Tom said in a calm voice, like she hadn't said a word as he brought out the other piece of the handkerchief, and half a smile flashed on his face when he brought the two halves together.

Fucking psycho, this game he was playing was really sick. Or did he really think there was some sort of friendship-? No, no.

"There is no us," Hermione said angrily but she appeared scared, as a part of her found what he was saying and doing really fearful.

"Yes, there is." The Slytherin shouted, throwing the torn handkerchief to the floor, and her shoulders slightly jumped as her eyes widened. He held up his hands with an apologetic look, then he lowered them before touching his temple with his fingers. "Even if it's like a thread, it's there." Tom suddenly said in a soft voice, moving a few strands of his hair out of his eye.

She couldn't explain why but she immediately felt overcome with emotion, and the feelings of anger and betrayal seemed to come back with a vengeance.

"If there was, you've clearly snapped it in two." Hermione shouted, digging her fingers into the hard material of the curtain covering. Then she blinked several times as she wondered if she'd really said that, and a strange and unexplainable look momentarily showed on the dark lord's face.

"I know," the heir of Slytherin said as he got on his feet again, and a cautious expression took hold of her face. He turned around and in seconds she knew what he was going to do. Even though she knew it was futile since she was wandless, Hermione tried to stand while holding up the curtain covering. But she'd barely gotten off the floor, when Tom faced her again and his wand was back in his hand.

"Sorry, what I said was wrong." The bushy haired witch said in a rushed voice, as she slid down the wall and settled on the ground again.

"No, you were right." He said, slowly walking towards her and she shook her head to say no. "I won't harm you," the Slytherin said softly as he stilled. "I'm going to mend everything," he added with a guilty expression, while lowering himself on his knees once more. A second later, her eyes widened as a horrified look formed on her face. Oh God, this is what he'd meant all along when he'd said I'll fix us. Instinct told her to run and throwing all caution to the wind, she shakily sprang to her feet but the dark lord didn't appear surprised in the slightest. Instead, he half smiled and it seemed like, he kind of admired her foolish courage in the face of definitive defeat.

Soon, Tom flicked his wand and before she could take a step, Hermione crashed back onto the floor and found herself facing him again. As she burst into tears once more, a distressed look flashed on his face and he momentarily closed his eyes.

"Riddle, please." Hermione said tearfully, looking back and forth with a panicked expression. "You said you wouldn't harm me," she added in a desperate and accusing tone, as she glanced towards the door.

"I most definitely won't," he said, making her look at him again. "I've flawlessly mastered the art of Obliviation," he continued in a factual tone, breaking eye contact and hearing him say it out loud made her heart painfully lurch. "You're safe in my hands," Tom added in a soft voice, raising his wand.

"I hate you," Hermione shouted angrily and as she realised what she'd said, a scared expression took hold of her face.

"I've always known that's one of your many opinions of me," the dark lord said looking her in the eye again, and his strangely pleased expression almost made her a heart stop "Calm yourself," he voiced in a sudden serious tone, before touching her head with his wand and as she pulled away, she couldn't help raise her hands in defence. The curtain covering slid down a few inches, revealing some of the dress and Tom immediately averted his eyes, while his wand hand slightly shook.

"Why?" Hermione whispered, as curiosity mingled into the fearful feelings saturating her. "The dress, why do you know it's a-?" she continued in a trembling voice.

"Shut up," Tom shouted, jabbing his wand into her cheek bone and she screamed in fright. After he'd pulled the curtain up to her quivering chin with his free hand, he gave her a death glare.

"I-" she started in a fearful tone, intending to apologise.

"Quiet," he hissed, dragging his wand from her face to her head. Tears flooded her eyes once again and a terrified expression fixed on her face, as she couldn't help tremble all over. A second later, the dark lord's appearance changed to reflect distress and regret. "I'll fix us," Tom suddenly said in a soft voice and an alarmed expression mixed with horror, immediately formed on her face. "Imperio," the dark lord said in a commanding tone, before she could say a word and her eyes widened, before becoming glassy and unfocused.

Hermione stared ahead feeling lost, why was she sitting on the floor? It wasn't important, she was safe and she should sit still. Why was she covered? Was that-it was for her protection. Who was that person dressed in formal evening wear? She didn't know, why didn't she-it's okay, she was safe. He seemed to be doing some cleaning up, why and who-? Not important, she was safe. He was so handsome but why did his hair look so wild, and why did he appear so stressed? Why was she with him and who-she was safe with him and that's all that mattered. His appearance was neat now, and he looked absolutely gorgeous. He turned to face her, and she couldn't help her lips from stretching into a smile. In seconds it vanished as a sad feeling pooled in her chest, and soon it showed on her face. It hurt, why did she feel so-it was irrelevant. She was safe and protected. Was he here to keep her safe? Who was he? It wasn't important, he was someone she could trust. Yes, and he even looked concerned for her.

Did she know him? Who was-she was safe. Why was he pointing a stick at her? It's okay, she should remain still. Why-it was for her own good. Her hair, the loose strands seemed to be tucking themselves back in. Was that normal? It was fine, there was nothing to worry about. "Cosmetic preservation spells, they definitely live up to their name." the handsome boy said, narrowing his eyes and she creased her forehead in confusion. Was he saying she should wear cosmetics from a brand called preservation spells? Who was he to-she should trust him. But why-not important. He would keep her safe and well.

The good looking young boy had turned around, she wanted to see his face again but who was he? It didn't matter but-she should put down the heavy material she was holding up. Yes, her arms were starting to ache. She straightened after setting it on the ground and seconds later, it floated up into the air. How? The beautiful boy seemed to be manipulating it with that instrument in his hand, which looked like a stick. Was that normal? Yes, there was nothing to worry about. But something didn't feel right about-she was safe, he would protect her. Soon the large material attached to the window on the right side, and it perfectly matched the one that'd been hanging on the left side. It was a window curtain, why had she been covering herself with a-not important.

She needed to pick up that cushion on the green arm chair, why should she-it was for her own good, she had to do it now. It wasn't long before the large cushion was in her hands, she should hug it and make sure her chest was covered. What, why-? It was very important and for her safety. She should do it now if she didn't want to get hurt, it would keep her safe. Blink of an eye later, she raised the cushion up to her chin and wrapped her arms around it. After a second, the attractive boy faced her again and she automatically smiled in response. Almost immediately a sad feeling came over her, and her happy expression became replaced by a depressed one.

What was that heaviness making her feel awful? It was nothing and she should ignore it. Yes, it was gone. The handsome boy, why did he look so concerned? Who was he and why was he staring right into her eyes? Not important, he would keep her safe. He raised his stick and her heart started to beat faster. Why was he bringing it towards her, was he going to-no, of course not. She could trust him, he would ensure her safety. Yes, he would protect her. Why did he look so stressed and did she know him? Yes, then who was-not important, there was nothing to worry about.

Suddenly, he touched her head with his stick and she couldn't help the shy look on her face. A second later, a gasp escaped her lips and a horrified look flashed on her face. Hurtful memories of pain and betrayal filled her mind. What did it all mean? Who was that girl, was it her? Yes, why and how-she shouldn't think further. Why not-no, absolutely not. Now, she needed to recall all the memories that had happened since she'd left her room. No, no. It hurt really bad and she wanted it all to go away. No, she must remember everything. But she didn't want to because it hurt, why should she and who was he to-? She was safe with him, she could trust him. She had to remember everything, it was very important and crucial to her safety. It was? Yes and she had to recall everything right now, unless she wanted things to become even more painful than they were now. No, she didn't want more pain. Then she'd have to remember all that'd happened since she'd left her chamber, even if she didn't like it.

Blink of an eye later, she stopped resisting and the hurtful memories flooding her mind, almost made her eyes water.

After a couple of seconds, all the feelings of pain and attachment were gone. But the happenings in her past continued to re-play in her mind, was that really her? It felt like she was watching another person in her head, the girl didn't appear happy and it felt like she didn't care. Was that wrong? Shouldn't she-the memories, she had to pay attention to them and everything else was unimportant. With a blank expression, she mentally focused on the girl in her mind again. While her eyes found the gorgeous young man clad in silver and white, with an emotionless appearance and he looked like, a perfect life like wax doll. "Obliviate," he suddenly said and before she could form another thought, her world blackened.

She rapidly blinked her eyes feeling confused and lost. Was the light too bright or was something wrong with her sight? Where was she and who was she? Why didn't she know-? It was okay, she should calm down. It wasn't important, she was safe. Who was that young man? Why didn't she-he would keep her safe, she could trust him. He was really handsome, a smile formed on her lips then an empty feeling wiped all emotion off her face, why was she feeling like that? Who was that young boy and why couldn't she remember-it wasn't important. She was safe and he was here to protect her. She should turn left and walk up the stairs to her right, but why-it was necessary and important.

After she'd gotten halfway up the staircase, it felt like a good idea to stop. Why, she thought after coming to a pause. Shouldn't she go all the way up? No, this was enough. But why-not important and she should stand still. Suddenly, there was a strange loud noise and there was something familiar about it. Where had she-there was nothing to worry about, it didn't matter. Then conversing voices reached her ears, and one of them didn't sound entirely human. Where had she heard that strange tone used in speech before? She didn't need to know the answer, she was safe and she should remain still. It was time to turn around now, it was but why was now-? Not important, she should do it now. A second later, she faced towards the opposite direction of the staircase. She should lightly rub her eyes with both of her hands, but they were fine so why-? It was for her own good, there could be something in them and she should do it right now.

After a moment's hesitation, she raised both her hands up and gently rubbed her eyelids. She should remain still now, as she was with her eyes closed. What, why would she-it was very important and for her safety. Soon there were sounds of footsteps drawing closer to her, shouldn't she see who-? No, remaining as she was would keep her protected. "Obliviate," her ears suddenly registered a male voice say, and her consciousness temporarily disappeared from existence. Hermione rapidly blinked as she found her eyes hurt, something must be in them? After she'd rubbed her eyes they felt a lot better, maybe it'd been make-up or the cosmetic preservation spells. Could've even been the latter, at least it was gone now. The head girl descended a step down , and then she grabbed the railing with more force than necessary.

She didn't feel well, was she coming down with something? Maybe, but she'd been fine. Ah, hopefully it wasn't some sudden illness that'd leave her with fever for days. Hhm, she was starting to feel better than before but the headache seemed worse. As she continued down the stairs, a strange feeling in her chest began to make her feel uncomfortable. Must be nerves, but things were good between her and the dark lord, so there was no reason to worry. Yes, perhaps she really was falling ill. Hopefully not, maybe she was just energy less, and everything would be better after some food. Tom must be getting impatient to leave, good thing she hadn't taken very long to get ready.

As she neared the end of the staircase, her stomach seemed to feel like it was in knots and Hermione took a deep breath. Why was she feeling like this? She should get a hold of herself, there was nothing to fear. Seconds later, her eyes fell on Tom and she found he had his back towards her. Great, she really did need another moment to herself. He seemed to be writing something, she'd thought she'd been quick but maybe not for him. Suddenly, there was movement to her right and she almost gasped in fright, before realising it was a house elf. All of a sudden, she had a feeling of having seen the elf before. Strange, because she couldn't actually remember anything. She must've caught a glimpse of the Hogwarts house elf somewhere in the castle, while it was fulfilling a task. Yes, that made sense.

"The ink," the heir of Slytherin suddenly said, and a confused look flashed on Hermione's face. A second later, she realised he was addressing the elf and as if on cue, it snapped its fingers. Two bottles of ink materialised mid air, and Hermione took a step back with a startled look, as they were disturbingly close to her. The bottles began to move forward, but she still couldn't help feel annoyed. Blink of an eye later, they began to speed back towards her and she reached for her wand, with an irritated expression but before she could do any magic, the glass bottles crashed into each other. Causing them to break and Hermione loudly gasped, as large amounts of ink dropped onto her dress.

A second later, she frantically tried to remove the black stains but not one spell, could make them fade even a little.

"I is very bad, I is not knowing ink would fall on your dress." the elf said in a high pitched voice, as it shook its head. "I is so sorry," it added, slapping itself.

"It's magically non-removable, permanent ink," Tom said without looking at her as he continued to write away. Disbelieving her ears, the witch stood still for a moment and then, an angry expression plastered on her face.

"You'll be sorry," Hermione snapped, pointing her wand at the elf, and its terrified big eyes seemed to double in size. "Crucio," she hissed with a lost expression, and the elf let out a loud squeak, while the heir of Slytherin ceased writing. But the elf wasn't withering in pain from the cruciatus, it was just crying and yelping in pure fright. Tears leaked onto the head girl's face and she stared at her magical stick, feeling more out of place.

She hadn't been able to crucio the elf, of course because it's not what she'd really wanted. She'd uttered the curse in anger, and its effect of scaring the elf was enough. But why was she crying, it wasn't the end of the world as she did have other dresses, so what the hell was wrong with her?

"Dismissed," Tom suddenly said in a commanding tone, and the wailing elf quickly dissaparated with a loud sound. But the witch remained as she was, with her wand still pointing at the spot where the elf had been, and her face was now drenched in salty tears. "Granger, I suggest you change your dress." The dark lord said, still not looking her way and Hermione rapidly blinked her eyes a few times, before his words registered in her mind. He was right, what on earth had gotten into her? The witch sniffed as she put away her wand and she was about to wipe her eyes with her hands, when a floating handkerchief touched her cheek. That was nice of him, further proof that everything was great between them and there was nothing to worry about. A smile tugged at her lips as she dried her face with it, and then a questioning look flashed on her visage. How had he known when she hadn't been crying loudly? She'd sniffed very audibly though so either he'd figured it out from that, or he'd sneaked a glance at her and she hadn't noticed.

What on earth was he writing, did it really need all his attention? "Don't let the house elf ruin your mood," Tom suddenly said, and her eyes fixed onto the back of his head. "They can't harm students intentionally," he added, slightly tilting his skull to the left. "But it is responsible for the accident," he continued, moving his head back to the centre. "As we are constrained for time, dismissal while it's wallowing in shame was the best option." The Slytherin said, emphasising time. "If it pleases you, I can arrange for you to punish the elf later." Tom added, pausing his quill and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing, as she found herself lost for words.

That had been a Hogwarts house elf, how could he have the power to-? If she remembered correctly, just now it had been obeying him, Oh God. How had the dark lord gotten it to personally serve him, in addition to Hogwarts and force it to not tell? Must be a secret otherwise the elf would've reported him by now, Merlin's beard, why had he let her see something so-did he kind of trust her? What on earth was she-? "I hope I can rely on you to not divulge what you have witnessed," Tom said, interrupting her thought and her eyes widened. Christ, she'd been right in her thinking, but she still didn't understand why he'd done that. "Now, if I may have your answer?" he added in an impatient tone. Answer? What was he-oh, the punish the elf later thing. Was he serious, did he really-? Merlin, did he mean that like a test? Because she'd just failed to crucio the elf and he hated failure and weakness. But if memory served her right, he knew she was capable of crucio and therefore, he must know she'd just used it like a common curse during a fit of rage. So by giving her another shot at crucioing the elf, was he just trying to be nice in his twisted way? Bloody Merlin, was that supposed to make her happy? They were in a good place, best not to piss him off.

"Thank you," Hermione started, hoping her voice sounded grateful. "But that won't be necessary," she added, shaking her head. "Since it was an accident, so no crucio." She continued as a heavy feeling gripped her heart. "No torture," she added in a higher pitched voice, while her eyes moistened. "Punishment, there's really no-" the witch began to further add in a slightly rushed voice.

"Granger," Tom interrupted loudly, twisting his quill. "I understand, there's no need to elaborate," Feeling lost and confused, the witch blinked away tears that were threatening to form. Something was wrong and she didn't know what? "Please make haste in readying yourself again, or we will be very late." He added in a slightly commanding tone, and his hand resumed writing again.

"Of course," Hermione said, fixing her eyes on his moving quill and she couldn't help her irritated expression.

What the hell was he bloody writing, that he couldn't even properly look at her once? Not that she needed or wanted-aarrgh. The witch quickly turned towards her staircase, and took a deep breath. It wasn't like that, it was just annoying that's all. She was just being silly and childish. He wasn't avoiding her on purpose, he was just busy. Besides, staring at her for long durations was normal for him, so he definitely didn't have a problem looking at her. Not that she-ah. She was going to stop thinking about that now, yes.

After Hermione had stepped inside her room and closed the door, she momentarily closed her eyes and touched her temples. Was her headache getting worse, or did it feel that way because she was alone? Probably, because she was more focused on it and she should just ignore it. After a deep breath, the witch rushed to get the other dresses Susan had given her. She'd already decided to pick the silver one, and she no longer cared if she matched with the dark lord. It's not like the rumours would stop and in her eyes, it was better than facing embarrassment or questions with the other cap sleeved dress, as she had faint battle scars on her upper arms. She could've magically altered the barely there sleeves, but there was no way to guarantee the duration of their existence. Usually, the better you were at magic the longer they lasted but nothing was set in stone, and she didn't want to take the risk.

After Hermione stripped of her current dress, she stared at it with wide eyes and even though she knew she was getting more late by the second, she couldn't help it. Black ink splatters on pale gold chiffon and dark gold beads, why was it so shocking? It wasn't, then what was it? Why did she suddenly feel so awful? Maybe she was getting ill or she just needed food, all the more reason to quickly get ready. The witch forced her eyes away from the damaged dress and she felt a little guilty, as she put it away. Surely, Susan's friend's cousin would be forgiving as it'd been an accident. As compensation, she was willing to offer some nice dresses or jewellery that Dippet's house elf had brought her. So it should be fine and besides, wasn't Hayley's cousin's intention to make connections through her material goods? Obviously and she was Maya Granger, head girl and a slug club member, so the girl should be happy to become acquainted with her. See, no harm done and now, she should hurry up.

Hermione put on the silver satin dress, and then she picked up the matching lace gloves. Wouldn't those make it way too formal? Then again, everything in the 1940s wizarding world was similar to the Victorian times. So she'd fit right in, and it must be a sign of being more proper. Yep, that could certainly benefit her image after those stupid rumours. Which would hopefully come to a stop, after everyone witnessed how Tom couldn't even bare to touch her at the Christmas ball, when he wasn't required or ordered to dance with her. Thank God, there'd be none of that tonight. The gloves should please the dark lord too, since he hated skin contact and as they had to work together to supervise the event, he could be more at ease, knowing there wouldn't be any accidental physical interactions involving her hands. Hermione thinned her lips and her cheeks coloured a little. Merlin, such things shouldn't be happening in the first place, so that she needed protection from-aargh. Yikes, that Susan girl must be to blame for her being plagued with such disturbing thoughts.

The head girl looked up at the ceiling and took a few deep breaths. Everything was fine, she was dressing like countless other girls of this time and she should get a move on, before the dark lord started knocking on her door and that wouldn't be good. Hermione slipped on the gloves as she walked towards the exit, then she gripped the door handle and stalled for a moment, before making herself leave the room.

As she walked down the staircase once more, the headache seemed to worsen and an uncomfortable feeling washed over her. What was wrong with her, what kind of strange illness was she developing? When her feet touched level ground, her eyes immediately sought the dark lord and as before, he had his back to her. But he was no longer writing, and nor did he appear busy with anything else. He was on his feet and obviously waiting for her, and she couldn't help but feel a little anxious. Had she taken too long? Maybe she should apologise, just in case. "I'm so sorry I've made you late," Hermione said, hoping her voice sounded apologetic and his shoulders slightly jumped, like she'd startled him. Impossible, her footsteps had been so loud. Maybe he'd been lost in thought, and hadn't realised she'd come down. God, would that put him in a bad mood? Oh, Merlin. As Tom turned to face her, Hermione put her hands together and momentarily held her breath. There was a smile on his face and he looked extremely handsome, there wasn't a trace of anger or negativity on him. But for reasons she couldn't explain, a strong feeling of fear seemed to be exploding inside her, and every fibre of her being was telling her to run, as far away as possible from him. Not an unexpected reaction to Voldemort, but she'd known for a long time who he was, so why in seven heavens was she feeling like this now?

"Actually, the fault is mine." Tom said, giving her a toothy smile and snapping her out of her thoughts. "I am the one that made us late," The word us, why the hell was it making her feel so emotional? "I ordered the elf to bring the ink, otherwise there'd be no accident." He said, with a serious expression creeping onto his face. The heir of Slytherin was being nice so why was she feeling like this? "Therefore, I apologise for making you late." He added, slightly bowing his head and knowing it was the right way to respond, she made herself return the stiff nod while forcing a smile on her face.

"You're not to blame, it's all due to unavoidable circumstances." Hermione said, while feeling the complete opposite and as a teardrop landed on her cheek, she blinked in disbelief. What the-was she fucking crying? "Sorry, there's something in my eye." She mumbled, turning her face away from him as she quickly wiped her face with her hands.

Bloody Merlin, that was so embarrassing and fucking insane, she was acting like a lunatic. Humble behaviour with apologies and smiles, and this is how she reacts to him. God, what must he be thinking?

"Granger," he suddenly called and she turned towards him, hoping her face was dry. His expression was unreadable, and he was holding a handkerchief towards her.

"Thank you, but I don't think I need it anymore." The witch said in a slightly rushed voice, as she couldn't help feel a little embarrassed. "Whatever it was, it's gone now." she added, rapidly blinking her eyes before flashing him a smile. There, that should quell any brewing negativity towards her. That is if there had been, better to be safe though.

"I see," the dark lord said, putting the handkerchief back in his pocket while breaking eye contact. Sure that he wouldn't notice, Hermione quickly ran her hands over her face before her hair. All normal, thank God. "Banish any concerns about your appearance," The Slytherin voiced, making eye contact again and she tried her best not to look mortified. Crap, he'd seen her and really misunderstood. It was more do I look okay, than do I look beautiful. "I've never seen you look so pleasing to the eye before," Tom said before giving her half a smile and she looked at the floor for a moment, as a shy feeling gripped her while her cheeks turned dark pink. "I'm sure many will share my opinion," he added and she couldn't help fidget with her gloved hands, as her blush spread to her ears.

Merlin, did he really say he'd never seen her looks so beautiful before? He actually thought she was-. Christ, what the hell was she-? Arrgh, no. It was just hormones and stress, she did not like him like that.

"Thank you," Hermione forced herself to say, as she looked at anything but him. He was just being polite and making general small talk, any girl in her place would've gotten the same compliment. So it didn't mean anything, thank heavens for that. She had to also compliment him back, right? "You're a very good sight too," she added in a voice that sounded high pitched when she hadn't intended it to, and then she did her best not to look as embarrassed as she felt. Damn it, she didn't want to appear like those lust struck girls.

"Thank you," Tom said, slightly bowing his head and as she gave him a stiff nod in return, she was glad to see his demeanour was unchanged. Thank God, he hadn't noticed her moment of unintentional, hormonal insanity. "Let's proceed," he said, turning towards the exit and she followed a second later.

Soon, Tom held the door open and gestured at her to step out with half a smile on his face. Blink of an eye later, Hermione crossed over the threshold with a small smile and then she turned around. As the Slytherin closed the door, she noticed the painting guarding the entrance was missing its inhabitants. Hades and Persephone had obviously travelled to paintings in the great hall, to join the Christmas celebration.

Seconds later, he turned around before taking a few steps forward. His expression was friendly but for some reason, she suddenly felt fear and sadness. Which was crazy and made no sense. At least in this moment, and when you ignored history from her time.

Hermione took a deep breath and forced a happy look on her face, before turning left. After she'd walked a few steps forward, Tom caught up with her and then he seemed to slow down a little. There was half an arm's length of distance between them, they were advancing down the corridor side by side, and their steps were almost evenly matched.

The head girl momentarily held her breath as an uncomfortable feeling attacked her chest, what was it? Trying to distract herself, she glanced side to side at the Christmas decorations while deeply inhaling and exhaling. The dark lord, he was closer to her than usual so that's-no, no. The distance between her and him wasn't inappropriate or annoyingly too close. If anything, it was more normal than abnormal, and the right amount of space that would be between acquainted individuals. He was no longer treating her as an enemy with plague, that was good, wasn't it? Yes, that was part of the plan. If it wasn't that, then what was making her feel like this? The weather was chilly this time of the year, maybe she'd caught the cold or something like that. What else could -?

Suddenly, voices interrupted her thought and she rapidly blinked, as she realised she'd arrived at the entrance of the great hall. Many students still hadn't gone in, maybe they were waiting for friends or had just arrived. Seconds later, they were all looking in her direction and their expressions mostly seemed to be of disbelief, disgust, surprise, curiosity, confusion or the latter. The head girl wanted to return an angry look and yell, 'it's not like that'. But she didn't feel she had the energy and blink of an eye later, she just wasn't bothered anymore. Who cares what they thought, they could think what they bloody liked. These delusional people had failed to identify the dark lord Voldemort in their midst, then how were they qualified to recognise a whorish, red woman? They knew nothing. Actually, now that she remembered right. It wasn't red woman but scarlet woman, and she most certainly wasn't one.

As Tom advanced a few more steps, the crowd parted to make way just like magic. Though none was used and Hermione couldn't help wonder, if they would've done that if she'd arrived alone. Probably not, maybe if she'd had unearthly beauty and power, to inspire fear and fascination in their hearts. Not that the dark lord had that sort of hold on her, no way. She was acting, that's all it was.

"Granger," a male voiced called, and it took her a few seconds to realise it was Tom. She'd been so lost in her thoughts, that she hadn't realised he'd walked a few steps ahead of her. Hermione stared at the back of his head feeling unsure, was it a good idea for them to enter together? Wouldn't make any difference if they didn't, might even fuel the rumours instead. Plus, the dark lord definitely wanted her to join him. Even though he hadn't said so or looked her way, it was obvious since he hadn't advanced without her. Upsetting him was a big no, there was no choice but to comply.

The head girl took a deep breath before catching up to him with slow steps, and a second after she'd come to a pause at his side, he turned his face towards her and gave her a quick smile. Her lips twisted to instantly return the hasty smile, while she couldn't help but feel a little alarmed, at how automatic her response had been. Before she could think another thought, Tom threw open the door of the great hall with an elegant wave of his wand, and the festive music and scenery immediately pulled her mind into her past.

Her eyeballs rapidly moved left and right, as a haunted expression took hold of her face. "Granger," the dark lord said, once again and she blinked, startled. "Let's proceed," he added in a gentler tone, and she nodded her head in agreement while giving him an apologetic look. Merlin, that could've upset him and she was lucky it hadn't. No matter how painful, she needed to be more alert and in control of her emotions.

Soon they walked inside together and in seconds, nearly all heads turned towards them. The volume of whispered voices dramatically rose as the carol being sung came to an end, and she suddenly found herself praying for loud music. That must be a first for her, she was definitely cursed. Ah, damn all those judgemental people to hell. It wasn't long before the sound of musical instruments filled the great hall again, but many eyes still continued to stare towards her and the dark lord. Attempting to block it out, Hermione tried to avoid directly looking at their faces and kept her gaze lowered. Leading her to notice the many outfits the students and staff were wearing. The fashion resembled the muggle Medieval and Victorian times, mixed in with elements of the 1940s period, like red lipstick and wavy hair. Many girls were wearing lace gloves and those that were more daring, had net shawls over their sleeveless arms and gloves up to their elbows. Good thing she was wearing lace gloves too, she'd fit right in.

Nope that wouldn't be possible, because most of the people in this room were looking at her like she wasn't human. Funny since their favourite Slytherin head boy was surely a demon masquerading as a person, and they were blind and short sighted fools. Actually, that wasn't funny. It was something to be angry about, she should've been mad at their reaction and speedily distanced herself as far as possible from Tom, but she just didn't seem to have the energy to muster anger. Instead, she felt empty, drained, hopeless and hurt. Since she'd arrived back in time she'd never felt so down, why was it that bad today? Must be this Christmas ball that resembled the Yule ball from her time, and also all the festive memory triggers.

"Don't you agree, Miss Granger?" she suddenly heard a loud voice say, and she lifted her eyes with a slightly confused expression. Oh God, Dippet, Slughorn and a stern looking woman were in front of her, and she had no recollection of them arriving. They must've been talking to her and Tom, and she had no idea what'd been said. Well, they wouldn't be any wiser if she just agreed.

"Err-yes," Hermione finally said, trying not to look lost.

"O ho, that's the spirit." Slughorn said in a loud booming voice, and she couldn't help slightly wince as a vein near her temple seemed to pulse. She attempted to quickly massage the area with her fingers while pretending to fix her hair, when she realised Tom was staring towards her without blinking.

"That's settled then," Dippet said, shaking his head and as the unfamiliar woman gave Hermione a searching look, the head girl hastily lowered her hands feeling uncomfortable.

"Armando, did you consider Hera Keogh before deciding to make Miss Granger head girl?" the woman said in a disapproving tone and the dark lord blinked, while Hermione fought to keep a tearful look of her face. Keogh, was a well known Irish pure blood family. Obviously this woman was blood prejudiced and a snob.

"Of course, Madam Longbottom." Dippet said, appearing a little tensed and Hermione slightly narrowed her eyes. Oh, so this was Bones's mother in law to be, and the female ministry official. "I assure you, Miss Granger is talented."

"But not like Mr Riddle," Madam Longbottom stated, with a malicious tone and one of the dark lord's hands clenched into a fist, as Hermione's chin slightly quivered. "Am I correct?" the ministry official added, raising an eyebrow.

Dippet looked lost for words, Tom appeared like he was holding himself back from speaking, and all she wanted to do cry. She should be prideful, hateful and angry. Crying should never have entered her mind in this situation, but all she wanted to do was cry and run away to a place, where it was just her.

"Almost," Slughorn said with a calculating look. "Riddle and Granger are my two top students." he added, emphasising top. "They even entered the young potion's master of the year award together," he continued, slightly elongating together. "Isn't that right my boy," Slughorn asked, looking at Tom.

"Yes, sir." the dark lord replied, almost instantly. "May I be permitted to state my opinion, madam?" Tom requested, placing his eyes on the female official before slightly lowering his head, and Hermione suddenly felt like screaming 'Get me out of here'.

Coming from the muggle world, she'd always found the wizarding word back in time, but this was too much back in time. This period was like a mixture of Medieval and Victorian times, with a flavour of 40s here and there. All these etiquettes and rules, way too complex. That scene before her eyes, showing the heir of Slytherin waiting permission with his head bowed. It was like something out of a story book, where the subordinate waited on their queen or lady. And those long winded, indirect way of saying things were like dialogues from a Jane Austen novel, she did not even know how to speak properly in this time. How much longer before they found out the truth about her and locked her away? For a second, a panicked expression plastered on Hermione's face and after a deep breath, she forced herself to look calm. What the hell was wrong with her? She could act, she'd done it all this time and no one would know, no one.

"You may," Madam Longbottom finally said and from her displeased expression, it looked like she'd wanted to refuse but she'd given in due to Tom's appearance.

"In my opinion," the young dark lord started, raising his head. "I have never come across a student more brilliant than Miss Granger." He continued, emphasising brilliant and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing. He didn't have to go out of his way to say that, that was nice of him. Did she really just-? No, he was using her to defend himself because he wasn't pureblood.

"I see," the ministry official said in a cold tone. "Armando, I had my doubts but you are indeed deserving of a third class order of Merlin, for house unity" the woman continued, looking at Dippet and a pleased expression appeared on the headmaster's face. "It is very rare for a Slytherin to have such a high opinion of someone from another house," Madam Longbottom added, moving her eyes back to the dark lord. "I'm very glad to find those of like minds getting along," the woman continued, emphasising like minds and Hermione felt like rolling her eyes. No doubt, this blood prejudiced woman meant similar blood status.

"That is how it should be," Madam Longbottom added in a louder voice, glancing at something further away.

Following her line of vision, Hermione realised she was looking at her son, William Longbottom, and a very nervous looking Cynthia Bones. Yeah, she'd been right in her thinking. It was obvious to her now, that Madam Longbottom also meant that only those of similar blood status should marry, and she was pleased that her son had chosen the other head girl. Ugh, she couldn't care in the slightest. She'd never wanted Longbottom to begin with, Riddle was a hundred times more better than-not that she wanted the dark lord in that way, no, never.

She was just stuck in an alien time with a huge responsibility, and she had no choice but to play the long game. Appear submissive and weak, and strike when all defences were lowered. Seemed simple when put into words like that, but the reality was very difficult, lonely, scary and sad. Hermione thinned her lips as she felt tears near the surface of her eyes, and trying to stop them she blinked a few times. After a moment, she realised she'd lost track of time again. Madam Longbottom and Slughorn were no longer in front of her, Dippet and the dark lord were talking about some regulation, but she had no idea what it was about. As Hermione tried not to appear as lost as she was, Tom suddenly locked eyes with her while continuing to converse with the headmaster, and as she held his gaze, she found herself hoping that her eyes weren't teary. What on earth was wrong with her, what sort of strange illness was she coming down with? After a few seconds, the dark lord gave her a stiff nod of farewell as the headmaster called him away, and before she'd returned the slight bow, she'd noticed that he appeared like he wanted to talk to her.

Soon, Hermione walked amongst a hall full of mostly unfamiliar students. As her eyes locked onto the magically manifested falling snow, she paused and watched the snowflakes repeatedly form and die. As seconds turned to minutes, for a moment she found herself unable to differentiate whether she was in the past or her own time. She didn't want to know the answer, she wanted it to remain like that forever. Suddenly, something bumped into her and snapped her back to her cruel reality. As Hermione spun around to inspect the source, she couldn't help her tearful expression but she managed to erase it in seconds. There was a boy in front of her and he looked very guilty, so she couldn't have been fast enough. What the hell was wrong with her? Why did this person look so-? It's because she was acquainted with him, the Weasley family ancestor that'd been introduced as Alexander Weasley. He reminded her so much of-no, she had to stop herself now. Ron Weasley. The second she said the name in her mind, a teardrop managed to leak out of her eye.

"I am so sorry," Alexander Weasley said, slightly bowing his head as he pulled the two drinks in his hands closer to his body.

"It's alright," Hermione said, returning the stiff nod. "I'm alright," she added in a louder voice, as loud music filled the air once again. God, she shouldn't have added that? Was she speaking correctly or sounding nuts?

"Granger," he said, taking a step closer to her and she tried not to look alarmed. "In this situation, I feel I must tell you something." he added with a serious expression and her pulse quickened a little. "That is, if you would permit me to." Alexander continued, dipping his head low before raising it again.

"Err-of course," Hermione said, nodding her head and hoping her voice didn't give away how she was feeling.

"Don't be saddened by people's judgement," he said in a low voice, and she instantly felt relieved that he didn't know who she really was. "You wouldn't be the first," Alexander added before quickly glancing back and forth. What on earth was he actually trying to say? "And you're certainly not alone," he continued, raising an eyebrow and she suddenly understood. Susan had once said she suspected Alexander of having a secret girlfriend, his girl was a Slytherin and that's why he'd concealed her identity. Arrgh, it wasn't like that between her and the dark lord. But before Hermione could say a word, Alexander raised the drinks in his hands a little higher and walked away smirking.

"Maya," Susan's voice sounded behind her, as if on cue and the head girl grimaced before turning around. "Merlin, you look wonderful." The girl added in a high pitched voice, while raising her hands.

"Thank you, you look nice too." Susan's red dress was a little daring with net straps, but it didn't look vulgar on her.

"Did Alex say anything interesting?" the girl asked with an overly eager tone, as she lowered her hands.

"No, he was apologising for bumping into me." Hermione said, trying not to look as disapproving as she felt.

"Oh," Susan said, looking disappointed. "Well, never mind." She added looking lively again. "This is your Christmas ball benefactor, Hannah Montgomery." Susan said, introducing a brown haired girl next to her, and Hermione wondered how she'd missed noticing Susan wasn't alone.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, head girl Granger." Hannah said, bowing her head.

"The feeling is mutual," she said, stiffly nodding her head. "I am grateful for your assistance. If there's anything I can do for you in return, do let me know."

"If it pleases you and if it's not too much trouble," the dress lender started with a demure appearance, and Hermione slightly narrowed her eyes as she thought, this one certainly doesn't waste any time. "Could you perhaps recommend me to Professor Slughorn, as a potential Slug club member that could be useful." Wow, those social climber claws of hers were really showing.

"It's no trouble at all," the head girl said, resisting the urge to raise an eyebrow. "I'll mention you at the first opportunity I get," No harm in helping a fellow non-pure blood even if Hannah was desperate. Plus, she did ruin one of the lent dresses. Which she wasn't going to mention today, definitely not with Susan as witness, as it would certainly fuel the girl's wild theories of her involvement with the dark lord.

After some small talk which Hermione wasn't too focused on, and forgot the second the conversation came to an end, Hannah took her leave. She hoped Susan would do the same but the girl remained where she was, as she gave her a 'I know what you're thinking look'.

"That was quite an entrance," Susan started, trying to conceal her excitement. "Now that it's just us, anything you want to admit to" the girl added in a higher pitched voice. Ugh, something was mentally wrong with this Susan.

"No," Hermione said in a bored voice, and Susan's expression darkened for a moment.

"Merlin, how can you still-?" the girl started in a frustrated tone. "You're in denial," Susan added almost accusingly, and Hermione couldn't help roll her eyes. "Or you like the 'it's a secret' factor," she continued, raising her voice and the head girl shook her side to side.

"Hardly a secret when everyone here saw us enter together," Hermione said with a slightly annoyed expression, while briefly massaging her temples as her headache further worsened.

"So you admit that it's not a secret that you're together," Susan said excitedly with a huge smile.

"Stop twisting my words," Hermione almost shouted, before grasping the sides of her head with a pained expression.

"Why are you getting so angry if it's not-?" Susan started accusingly before pausing with a concerned look. "Are you alright?" the girl asked, taking a step closer.

"It's nothing," the head girl said, lowering her hands. "Just a bad headache,"

"Drink something, it might help."

"I will,"

"Aren't you meant to be supervising in pairs," Susan said, looking around the great hall.

"Where is he?" the girl questioned with a searching look.

"No and I'm perfectly capable on my own." Hermione said in an offended tone.

"I didn't mean to imply you're inferior," Susan said with an apologetic expression. "I just meant, he should show you special consideration if you're unwell." she continued and the head girl's expression darkened. "Since you're colleagues on very friendly terms," the girl hastily added and Hermione continued to stare at Susan, with her expression unchanged. "Oh there's Riddle," the girl said in a sudden raised voice, pointing at a far corner towards the back of the hall.

Expecting it to be a diversion tactic, the head girl followed her direction and found it wasn't a lie. The dark lord was indeed there with the headmaster, and an unrecognised male that appeared important. "He looks majestic in that colour," Susan added in a dreamy voice. "It's so sweet that you're both matching," Hermione turned her head to glare daggers at the girl. "I'm sure that is completely unintentional," Susan continued, speaking hastily. "Ah, my other half is calling me." The girl added, pointing to her left. "Hope you have a good time with your special colleague," Susan said in a high pitched voice, before speeding away with a grin on her face.

After giving the girl a murderous look, Hermione returned her eyes to the back of the hall, intending to observe the dark lord again and found he was no longer there. Wondering where Tom had gone, she took a few steps forward, and she was so engrossed in searching the far corners of the large room, that she lost sense of what was happening close to her.

Suddenly, Hermione crashed into something large. As she almost fell, she looked in front of her with a startled expression, and realised she'd bumped into a finely dressed young man, that was kind of handsome. She'd seen him before, who was he?

"Forgive me," he said, taking a step back.

"The fault is entirely mine," Hermione said with an apologetic expression. Merlin, it was Cygnus black. "I'm sorry," she added in a weaker voice.

"No harm done," Black said, dusting his clothes before giving her a smile. Cygnus seemed to be nice and gentlemanly, she couldn't believe this was Bellatrix's father. "Multiple levitation," he said, with a shocked and surprised look on his face. For a second she was confused, then for a brief moment she feared he'd somehow read her memories, before realising a small plate and a goblet were levitating. Bloody Merlin, she was doing that. She'd instinctively drawn her wand to stop the objects from hitting her, and she hadn't realised until now.

Was she improving, or was it some sort of accidental magic but while possessing a wand? Could be, wonderful but a little scary too. Since when did her subconscious have more control than her conscious mind when she was awake? Maybe it had something to do with that headache? Which seemed to be making a comeback and suddenly, processing everything in reality became really hard. She was sure Black was complimenting her, but she didn't catch some of the words he'd said. As he took back his plate and goblet, a female face appeared over his shoulder and Hermione almost screamed, as she saw the face of Bellatrix Lestrange on her before realising it was Druella, the woman that'd become Bellatrix's mother.

Druella looked ready to kill her, why? Black took his leave in a nice manner but his girlfriend saying "Head girl, Granger," in a cold tone before following him, sounded like a threat and an insult. Why, what had she-? Suddenly, she overheard Druella almost shouting "Why is everyone now so curious about that American raised British muggleborn? Do you also think she has something I lack?" Ah, so Druella had acted like that because of jealousy. Why? She wasn't that attractive, and her interaction with Cygnus had been decent and in public. Hermione's eyes snapped towards the bickering couple as she heard Cygnus say "Riddle," and she was in time to witness Druella say "What?" with a shocked expression, and an annoyed look plastered on the head girl's face as she realised what was being assumed. As the couple continued to converse, Hermione wished she could hear what was being said but the new piece of music that'd come on was too loud.

She clutched her head for a moment as her skull felt like it'd split in two, and then she blinked several times. Soon she found Cygnus and Druella were no longer in sight. Everyone around her seemed happy and lively, dancing, drinking and eating. Except that boy that was staring towards her with a sour expression, she kind of recognised him but she couldn't remember exactly who he was. Why was he so unhappy when he was holding the hand of a beautiful woman, and what had she ever done to him?

"What are you thinking?" the girl accompanying the boy asked.

"Once I really wanted something. Just now I realised, it had been unobtainable because I'd had the wrong currency." he replied, and Hermione creased her forehead as he seemed to become more familiar.

"Oh. If you really wanted it, why didn't you go back with the right currency?" his partner questioned and the head girl found herself thinking the same thing.

"The currency was not monetary, it was knowledge and one cannot obtain that in an instant." The boy answered and with her current headache, Hermione couldn't help but feel confused by his answer.

"I see," his female companion said, looking her way with a suspicious expression, and the head girl became even more puzzled. "I hope I can eventually make you forget your past disappointments," the girl added, moving closer to him until her shoulder touched the boy's shoulder.

"I believe it's working," the boy said, looking his female partner in the eye. Why did she get the bad feeling that she was the cause of his disappointment? Surely, she would remember something like that? Actually, there was something scratching at the surface of her mind.

"Potter," A male voice suddenly said in a cold tone and as she looked to the left, she realised it was Malfoy.

After a second, it all came back to Hermione. She did know that boy, it was Xavian Potter. As usual, he was still a despicable person on the inside. As if he could've ever purchased her like an item, she'd never sell herself for any type of currency. "I see you've finally come to your senses," the aristocrat drawled, faintly smirking at Xavian and he gave Malfoy a murderous look as he released his partner's hand, then he gripped his wand. The blond haired Slytherin mirrored his actions with a taunting expression, and after a few more seconds of hateful staring, Xavian let go of his wand before clasping the hand of his female companion again.

"Let's go somewhere less crowded," Xavian said, pulling his partner closer and as he steered her away, Malfoy rolled his eyes.

"You look dignified," the aristocrat said, turning towards Hermione. "And to my surprise, somewhat elegant." he added with a disbelieving expression, and she stared at him with a displeased look. "Forgive me if I fail to understand your response," Malfoy said, taking a step closer. "I'm not learned in the mystical ways of telepathic communication-" he continued, raising his eyebrows. "-that you seem to frequently utilise with a certain head boy." he added, emphasising head boy.

"Malfoy, I don't have the faintest idea of what you're talking about." Hermione said in an annoyed voice.

"You seem to be rather on edge, I've barely done anything to offend you." he said, putting on a mock hurt expression. "Especially, if you compare now to our previous encounters." The aristocrat continued, running a hand through his silky blond hair.

"Has no one ever told you, sometimes your mere presence can be offensive." The head girl voiced, rolling her eyes.

"I'm aware," Malfoy said, in a sudden icy tone. "But very few have dared to voice such opinion," he said, emphasising dared.

"If you don't have anything important to say or report, I'll take my leave," Hermione said with an unafraid expression, while crossing her arms.

"Actually, I do have something important to say," the aristocrat replied as a playful look took hold of his face.

"I'm listening," she said with an irritated look.

"I know," he said as a smile appeared on his face.

"Know what?" Hermione said, raising her voice.

"I've been observing you for some time," he said, narrowing his eyes and she tried not to look as alarmed as she felt. "Like most others, I was also curious." he added, elongating the word curious. Merlin, what had he found out?

"I don't know what all the fuss is about? America has been around for a long time now." she said, putting on an unbothered expression.

"But you have not," Malfoy said sharply and her heart rate doubled. Oh God, did he know how she had-? "Potter is indeed a fool, but he isn't entirely wrong." he voiced, interrupting her thought. Thank heavens, he didn't know about the time travel.

"Malfoy, low as my status may be in the eyes of people like you." Hermione started venomously. "I will never sink low enough to sell myself, no matter the price." she said, emphasising price.

"Sell is not the correct word in these situations," Malfoy said, shaking his head side to side. "Exchange, alliance, and cooperation are better suited." he added, raising an eyebrow.

"What situation are you exactly talking about?" she almost snapped, un-crossing her arms.

"My, my. Still acting clueless are we," The aristocrat answered with an amused expression.

"If nonsense is the important thing you wanted to talk about-" Hermione started angrily.

"It's not nonsense," he interrupted, almost shouting and few students nearby glanced in their direction. "It is unlikely, almost rare." the aristocrat continued, lowering his voice. "And it's being sustained by both sides," he added with a wondering expression. "Why?" Malfoy suddenly questioned, looking her right in the eye, and she almost flinched as her pulse quickened.

"What in Merlin's name do you mean?" Hermione asked in a mechanical voice, while keeping her face expressionless.

"You know exactly what I mean," he said almost accusingly, as he pointed a finger at her.

"You're not making any sense," she said in a rushed voice, as she tried to remain calm.

"I know I am," Malfoy said, twirling his pointed finger.

"I think you're very confused," Hermione stated, almost angrily.

"No, there's certainly more to you than meets the eye." he said, lowering his finger while narrowing his eyes. "Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder," the aristocrat added, nodding his head up and down.

"So this is your new bulling tactic, emotional assaults that will draw little attention." the head girl said in hostile tone.

"I now see, affection can indeed blind some to the truth of their reality." the blond Slytherin said, as an expression of pity took hold of his face.

"I have crystal clear clarity, don't think I will hesitate to report you." she almost shouted.

"What about reporting him?" Malfoy said loudly with a challenging look.

"What? Who are you-?" Hermione started hotly before trailing off with an angry expression. No matter what he thought he knew, she wouldn't admit to anything.

"I thought so," he said creasing his forehead, as he ran his fingers through his hair once more.

"Granger, you look so tragically beautiful tonight, that even I don't have the heart to further add to your pain." Malfoy said in a sudden soft voice, before flashing her a toothy smile.

"You're mistaken, I'm not in pain." the head girl hissed.

"You are," he said, shaking his head.

"I will not indulge your insanity further, excuse me" she said in a high pitched voice, as she turned her face sideways.

"I can tell from your face, and you were crying earlier." he voiced, raising an eyebrow.

"I'm an orphan. Naturally, Christmas reminds me that I have no family." Hermione said, raising her voice as she turned her head towards him again.

"I'm sure that's one of the reasons," Malfoy said dismissively, while patting away something stuck to his expensive velvet outfit. "Abandoning you for so long tonight, after the way you look now." he said in a sudden seductive tone, lowering his eyes to her chest.

"Raise your eyes, Malfoy" Hermione commanded angrily, gripping her wand.

"Riddle is too cruel," the aristocrat said, putting on a sympathetic expression as he looked her in the eye again.

"Those rumours are malicious slander," she said, breathing heavily as she stressed the word slander.

"I highly doubt that," Malfoy said with a disbelieving look. "But if you were to confess, it's all affections of the heart without a moving body, I would believe you in an instant." he added, shaking his head up and down, while a smile tugged at his lips. "There are so many things one can do, without damaging their evidence of purity" the aristocrat continued in a lower voice, as a lustful glint entered his eyes.

"How dare you speak to me of such indecent-?" Hermione started in an almost shouting voice, while drawing her wand with a murderous look.

"I meant no harm, merely offering my services to aid in healing your physical loneliness." Malfoy said, winking at her.

"Shameless," she hissed, pointing her wand threateningly but before she could do any magic, Professor Beery neared her vision.

"Forgive me," the aristocrat said, raising his hands in surrender as he walked a few steps away from her, with a mock hurt expression. "I'll take your insult as a compliment," he added in a lower voice, before speedily walking away with a smirk on his face.

"Granger, was Malfoy bothering you?" Beery asked with a concerned expression, as he approached her.

"Nothing serious, professor." Hermione said, putting her wand away. "Merely a


"I see," the professor said with slightly disbelieving expression. "If he ever does anything out of line, do let me know and I'll have a word with Horace."

"Thank you, professor. I'll remember that," she said, making her face appear cheerful.

"My play's going to begin shortly," Beery said, gesturing at the costume in his hands.

"I haven't forgotten, I definitely won't miss it." Hermione said, shaking her head side to side.

"I'm glad to hear that," he said, taking a few more steps closer to her. "Your dress looks wonderful," Berry said in a low voice before giving her a smile, and she couldn't help feel a little attracted to him. "See you soon," he added, speaking loudly again before slightly bowing his head, and as she returned the stiff nod, a searing pain shot through her skull.

After straightening her head, she blinked several times and briefly touched her temples, as she watched Beery walk towards Farrow. The substitute professor's eyes seemed to be on her, but she felt too ill to interpret Farrow's expression. Good guess it wasn't anything pleasant, the woman was just too suspicious and insecure.

After a few seconds, Hermione took a few steps forward and a lost expression plastered on her face. She was meant to go somewhere, where? Why couldn't she remember and why did she feel so-what was it? It was a horrible, empty sensation in her chest and it was making her wish that she didn't exist. Suddenly her eyes moistened and she blinked and sniffed, to clear her vision.

'Quick, it's going to start' someone said loudly in a group of students near her, and she immediately remembered she was meant to watch Berry's play. As the head girl advanced towards the stage she felt slightly dizzy and disoriented. When the performance began, she tried her best to focus but she couldn't concentrate. As time passed, she took in people moving, dancing, singing and talking but she had no idea what the story of the play was about.

Suddenly, Berry came back on the stage again and this time he was wearing a cloak, that seemed metallic gold. When he began to swish it around dramatically, she couldn't help being reminded of Gilderoy Lockhart. All of a sudden, all she could see was her old professor and soon all the painful memories of her time followed. Hermione's hands slightly shook as she bit the inside of her cheeks, and her eyes moistened so much, that she could barely see. Suddenly, the people on the stage froze before a floating banner appeared above them, and she tried not to burst into tears, as she wondered what was happening. Seconds later she understood, as an announcement was made that there would be a 45 minutes break, before the second part of the play continued.

When the crowd of watchers began to disperse, she almost ran in the opposite direction of the stage. Soon Hermione bumped into a female, and managed to steady herself in time without falling. "I'm sorry," she said, raising her head.

"It's okay, Granger" the female replied and a second later, she realised it was Bones, the girl looked cheerful and was holding Longbottom's hand.

"Everything went well then," Hermione asked as she rapidly blinked.

"You can say that," the Gryffindor head girl answered while smiling, and Longbottom nodded his in agreement, with a slight smile on his face.

"Granger, are you alright?" Bones questioned with a concerned expression, while releasing Longbottom's hand and then she took a step forward.

"There's something in eyes," Hermione said faking a short laugh. "Excuse me, I need to take it out," she added, drawing her wand.

"Of course," Bones said, glancing in Longbottom's direction and before Hermione walked away, she noticed the Gryffindor head girl's unconvinced expression. Which made her walk forward even faster, until a table blocked her path and she held out her hands, as she nearly crashed into it.

After taking a deep breath, Hermione pretended to have raised her hands in order to pick up some food and drink. Soon, her wand was hidden from sight again and she was holding an un-corked bottle. Not bothering to see what it was, she drank from it just to put on a show of eating and drinking. She barely registered the spicy taste as she set the glass bottle down, and then she put the seal back on with shaky hands. She had no interest in eating or drinking. She should be hungry right now but her appetite was dead. Instead, her stomach appeared to have developed a craving for unpleasant emotions. Her belly was so full that it seemed to be spreading to her chest, what was that heavy feeling strangling her heart? It was so horrible and painful.

Hermione suddenly burst into tears, and she tried and failed to make it stop. She almost threw the items near her hands onto the floor, before laying her hands down flat onto the rectangular furniture, and as salty water continued to pour from her eyes, Hermione lowered her head to hide her face and surrendered to cry to her heart's content. She was extremely sad, she didn't know how to make it go away, and nor did she know how to stop the tears flooding her sight. Her body was refusing to obey her will, Hermione just wanted to die right now. Anything to make this hurt and pain disappear.

"Granger," She suddenly heard a male say near her left ear, and a loud sob tore from her throat in response. She didn't know why, but his voice had made everything ten times worse. Now, her shoulders and hands were shaking, and she was sure she was crying louder than before. The music and singing filling the great hall was concealing it all from everyone. Expect him, he was too close to her to not have heard. Hermione slightly raised her head towards him with shame now mixed into her tearful expression, and even then she couldn't stop crying. When her eyes recognised Tom Riddle, her watery eyes widened and her lips trembled. Merlin, no. He despised weakness, he must be disgusted with her but she still couldn't stop the tears.

"Imperio," she heard the young dark lord whisper as he stepped closer to her, while the music and singing coincidentally came to an end. Hermione stared towards him in shock and disbelief. Did he really just use an unforgivable in public, was that guilt on his face?

Seconds later, a new musical tune filled her ears and her mind calmed. No more suspicious questions bothered her and that horrible, soul crushing pain was gone. Was that normal? For her feelings to just-there was nothing to worry about, everything was fine. Yes, it was nice to see again without all that water obstructing her vision. But her face was still wet, so she should take the handkerchief that handsome boy was offering her, who was he? Not important, she should use it and she could trust him. Really, yes. As she took the square cloth he offered, she couldn't help smile at him as he was so good looking, and he returned the smile but his one seemed to have a sad undertone. Why? She must be really ugly with such a wet face-no, she was mistaken. Why would he help her if he didn't like her company? Right, so she should quickly dry her face, yes.

After she'd done that, she handed the square cloth back to the nice boy and then, she had the urge to follow him as he walked away. Should she really be-? Yes, he wanted her to go with him. He did, but when had he said-? Not important, he wanted her to come and she should go with him. Soon, the tall, dark haired handsome boy opened the large door and disappeared. Then a blond haired, regal looking male caught her eyes and he seemed to be giving her a pitiful look. Who was he and why was he-? Not important, she needed to step out those doors and follow the handsome boy. But why-? She had to do it now, it was very important.

After Hermione left the great hall, she found him again after walking a few steps forward and as if on cue, he turned towards her and gave her a smile. The head girl returned a wide smile and when the urge to go after him returned, she almost ran towards him. When he walked into another corridor, she followed and when he took more turns and then went down a set of stairs, she continued after him as it felt right, even though she didn't know why. When the beautiful boy opened a door that led outside and beckoned for her to follow, the bushy haired witch hesitated.

Soon all worry vanished from her mind, of course she could trust him. Hermione slightly shivered and hugged herself, as she followed the white and silver clad handsome being through grassy grounds, with a few trees here and there. After awhile, a building came into sight. The princely looking boy with long fingers somehow opened the doors by waving a stick, she barely had time to question the visual before her feet urged her to go in after him.

Hermione hesitated for a moment before crossing the threshold of the entrance, and the second she stepped inside, the doors seemed to swing shut by themselves. Was that normal-?

Everything was fine and she should relax. This new place was nice, it was tidy and spacious with two large windows, and extremely high ceilings. To her left, there seemed to be soft looking white coloured mats covering the floor, and they all had a large golden symbol of a ball with wings in their centre. The very large room was kind of dark though, and as if awaiting her signal, some candles sprang to life and added some light. Where had they come from and how did they light up? That wasn't important, she was safe. She was? Who was that, did she know him? That didn't matter, he wouldn't harm her and she should relax.

Suddenly, a small table that was very short materialised on one of the mats. As Hermione began to question how, she forgot about it before she could get to the end of the question. Her eyes fixed onto the handsome boy again as he brought out a dice, that somehow evolved into a box that could be opened. He took out a small, red velvet drawstring bag before placing it on the table, then he set the box down near one of the furniture's legs. After a few seconds, the unearthly looking male species momentarily closed his eyes, and touched his temples. Then his gaze was directly on her, and she found herself admiring his high cheekbones once again.

"I mean you no harm," he said, turning sideways as he raised his hands to his collar. For a second she wondered what he was doing, before realising he was undoing his cravat tie and as her attraction to him intensified, her cheeks coloured dark pink. "This is more for comfort, not for any sinister purpose," the handsome male added, as he undid the buttons of his tailcoat before pulling it off, and the busy haired witch couldn't help feel a rush of excitement. Even if it was a side profile, the sight of him in a white satin shirt made her eyes widen. "What I'm saying will make more sense later," the beautiful being continued, while opening the first two buttons of his shirt and the busy haired witch bit her lips, as a sweet feeling she didn't understand briefly enveloped her. "It's important that you remember," he said, while placing the clothing he'd removed near his box. "I don't wish to-" the attractive male started as he turned towards her and she couldn't help her pulse from quickening, while her blush spread to her ears. "-harm you." He finished sounding and appearing uncomfortable.

What had he said? She was safe with him, yes. Who was he? Why couldn't she remember, not important. She could trust him, he was so handsome and he'd said he wouldn't harm her. Suddenly, a stick flew out from her person and settled in his outstretched left hand. She had one too, was it important? It was hers, why had he-? It's okay, he was going to keep it safe for her. He would? Yes, and there was nothing to worry about. "I'm going to undo it now," he said, lowering his gaze as he concealed her stick, and she blinked with a confused look. What did he mean by that? "Don't forget, you're safe with me." the tall male added as he held his stick high up, before flicking it in her direction.

Hermione blinked appearing confused, then her eyes widened and seconds later, a horrified look took hold of her face. Merlin, oh God. This was the building exclusively devoted to quidditch, except for that purpose it was rarely visited by anyone, and he'd isolated her here when everyone would be busy at the ball. Holy mother Mary, he had her wand. She looked back and forth like a trapped rabbit, then she burst into tears as sadness choked her heart once again, but combined with fear it was more intense this time.

Suddenly it felt hard to breath and she clutched at her chest. "Granger," The dark lord said, taking a step towards her and his actions made her run towards the door, like a reflex reaction. Finding it locked, she banged on it with her fists a few times like a mad person. "Granger, calm down." Tom said sounding much closer to her, and she spun around with a fearful expression which turned to absolute terror, when her eyes identified items of clothing that were no longer on him. The hell she was safe, when could Voldemort ever be trusted? She'd thought she knew him a little, had it all been an act? "Don't look at me like that," he shouted, pointing his wand with a murderous expression and Hermione flinched. She couldn't help it as more tears sprouted from her eyes, and she rapidly blinked as she tried to make it stop. "You are at my complete mercy," Tom said, taking a step back. "I could have, and I still can do as I wish with you." He added, lowering his magical stick, and his words sent shivers down her spine. "I won't harm you," he said in a softer voice, and for a few seconds his face displayed a hurt expression.

She felt guilty for a moment, but it quickly turned to anger.

"It's very hard to trust you when you have taken away my free will," Hermione said, raising her voice a little. Best not to make him angry, she should apologise. "Forgive me," she added in a trembling voice, as fear and sadness started to suffocate her again. Salty water wouldn't stop coming out of her eyes, all she wanted to do was cry loudly but no matter how much she cried, the knot of sadness in her chest wouldn't loosen. This wasn't normal, she'd been unhappy before but never like this. The dark lord, he must've done something to her. "What did you do to me?" Hermione said in a low tearful voice, as she swayed side to side and she couldn't help the betrayed look on her face, when he turned his back towards her. Things had been good between them so why-? He wanted to do something to her or he'd found out something, oh God. "I'm sorry," she said in a high pitched voice, as she looked back and forth while rapidly blinking.

There was no way out, she was trapped. All this unusual grief and horror, her heart felt like it would burst and suddenly, she felt energy less and dizzy. "I'm so sorry," Hermione said tearfully in a desperate tone, as she couldn't stop herself from collapsing to her knees and almost immediately, the dark lord spun back around. She nearly fell to the ground but he managed to lower himself in time, and grabbed her clothed shoulders. Merlin, was he actually holding her with his hands? She stared in fear and disbelief at his hesitant and concerned expression, and her shaking shoulders from her uncontrollable crying, seemed to make his insulated touch feel more pronounced.

Seconds later, he looked really uncomfortable. Without warning, he let go of her and a startled expression plastered on her face, as her back almost met the ground again and he held her upright once more, but this time with the magic. Hermione's eyes widened in horror as he levitated her entire body up, and when he set her down on the mat, near the table he'd materialised, she tried to get up and run. Tom easily pushed her back onto the cushioned floor with a wave of his wand, and she clutched at her chest again with a defeated and fearful expression, as more tears fell from her eyes while her heart felt like it was burning from all the dark emotions.

"It was not my intention to cause you so much grief today," he said, walking towards her and her pulse quickened. "Forgive me," Tom added, sitting down near her. She instinctively tried to crawl away and with a twirl of his wand, he held her in place. Hermione couldn't stop herself from crying louder as her heart lurched, she was sad as it was and now, God knows what he was going to do to her.

Suddenly, he tugged at the end of her dress and she gasped in fright. Then a relieved expression flashed on her face as she realised, her dress had moved up to her knees and he'd just pulled it back down. "All that emotional pain and torment," the heir of Slytherin said, holding up a handkerchief towards her face, and she was too scared to refuse. "I promise it will soon become non-existent," he added with a guilty look as he dried her trembling face, which soon reflected intense fear. What the hell did he mean by that?

"Riddle, please." the witch started tearfully. "Let me go," she added in a higher pitched voice and she hugged herself tightly, as her ribcage felt like it would crack from all the negative emotions filling her chest.

"Sshh," the dark lord whispered, vertically placing his wand on her lips and they trembled against the wooden rod, as her eyes widened. "I'm sure you'll enjoy it," he said, moving his wand up to her temple and a terrified expression plastered on her face. As his words repeated in her mind, she trembled all over in fear while attempting to break free of his hold, but it was no use. Bloody Merlin, what was he-? "Imperio," Tom said before she could complete that thought and soon, her eyes widened before taking on a glassy appearance.

Seconds later, Hermione blinked and then a questioning appearance took hold of her face. Who was that young man in white? She didn't know but she was with him, so shouldn't she remember-? Not important, she was safe with him. Really, yes. He was so handsome and he was hers, was he-? That wasn't important, she just needed to trust him. But why-she could trust him. There was something in his hands, it looked like a small bag. The red colour was nice, what was inside? He was opening the pouch, she would know soon. She watched with a curious expression, as the attractive being dipped his long fingers into the velvet sac and soon, he pulled out a handful of white powder that was glowing with an aura of metallic silver. Wow, so pretty and fascinating. What was it? She didn't know, why didn't she-? Not important, she could trust him and he knew what it was, so it was fine.

Her face took on a questioning appearance once again, as the good looking boy sprinkled the powder on the table until it formed a straight line, that was as tall as the average size of an index finger. He proceeded to make multiple lines like this all over the table, and she creased her brows as she continued to stare. What was he doing, was it some kind of art? It wasn't important, he knew all about it so she didn't have to worry. But-it was fine. He knew what he was doing, and she was safe with him.

It wasn't long before a curious look was on her face again, the handsome male's face was now very close to the table. What was he doing-he knew what he was doing, and there was nothing to be alarmed about. The questioning look returned to her face when he blocked one of his nostrils with his thumb, before slightly tilting his head towards the table. Suddenly, he inhaled an entire line of glowing powder into his nose. Then the attractive boy threw his head back and exhaled red smoke from his mouth, before closing his eyes. She didn't understand his strange actions, but he was gorgeous. He looked so beautiful in the satin shirt, and the unbuttoned collar and his closed eyes, gave him an extra dreamy edge.

Without warning, he snapped his eyes open before fixing his gaze on her, and she couldn't help the startled look on her face. It's okay, he would protect her and she was safe with him. She was, yes. What was that stick in his hand? Not important now, everything was fine. Suddenly, he beckoned her to join him. She hesitated for a moment, before giving into the urge to sit next to him and when he smiled at her, she immediately smiled back. Soon, she developed a strong desire to breath in one of the lines of glowing powder. What was it? Not important, she should remove her lace gloves and try one. Was it safe? Of course it was, she could trust him. Would he mind? Definitely not, he'd called her here to have one and she should. Who was he? Why couldn't she remember-? Not important, she could trust him and she should try one right now. Yes, she should. It looked fun, and he appeared happy after breathing in the shiny powder.

She hesitated for a moment, before pulling of her thin gloves and while placing them on the floor, she questioned her actions again but in seconds, she decided once again that she should try one. As she placed her fingers on the edge of the table, a nervous feeling bubbled in her stomach but in seconds, it became replaced with confidence. As she bent her upper half to get closer to the powder, her hair sprang forward and touched the table. She was about to move it away, when she felt his fingers capturing the loose strands, and then he continued to hold them near the back of her head. With her cheeks blushing deep pink, she resumed her action of moving her face closer to the table, but this time with his hand in her hair. She had no idea why, but that was making her feel strangely excited.

After she'd aligned her nose with a line of white and silver, she blocked one of her nostrils with her index finger. For a moment she stalled and questioned her actions once more, before new mental encouragement dissolved all doubts and fear. A second later, she deeply inhaled the glowing powder into her nose. As it blasted into her lungs, she couldn't stop herself from gasping loudly and a cloud of red smoke escaped her mouth. Something wonderful was happening to her, and she couldn't find words to explain it.

Suddenly, a strong tremor initiated in the muscles of her limbs. She almost fell sideways, when a pair of hands behind her captured her upper arms and then, she was gently placed on the strangely soft ground, until her back was resting against it. She barely registered someone towering over her, as her limbs trembled once more but she didn't feel any fear, and when she noticed a wooden rod pointing at her, she broke out in giggles as she couldn't help finding it funny.

Hermione rapidly blinked as a flood of new memories filled her mind, then they didn't matter anymore as a powerful feeling overpowered her senses. It seemed to seep into her soul and overtake the core of her consciousness. It was like she was alive, but not alive at the same time. She was alive but her entire being was devoid of pain, emotions, feelings and all her senses. Her mind was also blank, it didn't hold even a single thought and yet, she was faintly aware of being alive. Time had lost all meaning, she breathed in and out as she continued existing.

After what felt like many hours, mild light began to penetrate her eyes until her vision switched back on. Slowly, her other senses started to awaken before her mind sprang back to life, and as it formed thoughts once again, an extremely sweet and happy feeling flooded her chest. Suddenly, many small dots of multicoloured light seemed to fill the air. Clusters of them seemed to have independent patterns of movement, and many sparked when they crashed into each other.

Without warning, luminous geometric patterns and structures started to swirl in and out of existence. At the same time, the feelings of euphoria and joy intensified so much that she wanted to scream. Instead, it resulted in a few moans escaping her lips as she dug her fingers into the spongy floor.

When the mystical effects began to decrease, she started to become more aware of who she was, and how she'd ended up on the soft ground. After awhile she tried to get up and failed, as her limbs felt like jelly that wouldn't support her. She tried once more after some time and found herself able to crawl. The witch slid her body towards the small table and soon, her eyes found the dark lord sitting up but slightly bent over the furniture, and his eyes were closed.

How the fuck was he managing to keep himself upright? She tried to say something, but her vocal chords seemed to have not switched on yet. After almost a minute, Tom exhaled red vapour and her eyes widened in shock, as she realised he'd intentionally held it in for some time. How on earth-? Before she could complete that thought, the Slytherin inhaled another line of powder while keeping his eyes closed. Again, Hermione found herself questioning how he could do that, as she managed to raise her upper half a little higher and soon, a gasp escaped her lips.

She couldn't believe what she was seeing, the entire surface of the table was clean, and not even a trace of the luminous powder remained. He'd finished it all off, how could his body withstand it all? It was all gone, no. Suddenly, she could move better than before and she travelled forward on her knees, until she grabbed the edges of the table. Then she ran her hands over the top with a desperate expression, hoping to catch a left behind grain but her efforts proved fruitless. Ah, no. She wanted to, she needed to inhale it one more time.

Suddenly, Tom sat up straight and opened his eyes with a calm expression on his face.

"Riddle," Hermione started in a weak voice when her limbs trembled, spreading feelings of ecstasy and happiness through her entire body. "Riddle," she repeated in a urgent tone, she wanted to tell him about the wonders she'd seen and felt, and ask him for more powder but with the sensations she was feeling, all she managed to say was his name again.

"Sshh," he said, shaking his head after smiling at her. "I know," he added, conjuring a large cushion and after placing it near the wall, he leaned against it.

"Riddle," Hermione said again in a more desperate voice, and he gave her toothy smile in response. "I want-," she started, moving closer to him with an annoyed expression.

"Just the words I want," he said, tilting his head to the left. "Not very persuasive, is it?" the dark lord added with a mock disappointed expression, before giving her another smile.

"Riddle, please." The witch said in a slightly shaky voice, as she tried and failed to conceal her angry expression.

"Yes," he said, before closing his eyes with smile on his face.

"I want more," Hermione said breathlessly as she paused in front of him. "Please," she added in a louder voice.

"Forgive me," Tom said, opening his eyelids. "I can't allow that," he added with a sympathetic look. "If a beginner inhales it more than once, the side effects can be dangerous." He continued and her fingers curled in fury. If he wouldn't provide then she'd take it herself, where was that red pouch?

Suddenly, she spotted the velvet sac lying near the box. But before she could even proceed towards it, the small drawstring bag jumped into the cubed structure it'd come out from. As it rapidly shrunk before turning into a dice, Hermione tried to grab it and almost toppled over. When an invisible force grasped her around the waist, then it pulled her towards the dark lord and when she arrived next to him, Hermione was in time to witness him pocketing the newly formed dice.

"Damn the consequences," the witch said angrily. "I want more," she demanded, trying to move closer to him but with a wave of his wand, he effortlessly held her in place. "Please," the witch said in a distressed tone, as she held out her hands like a child begging for candy.

"Be patient," he said, with an amused expression. "The effects aren't over yet," Tom added with a smile.

"But I can't feel-" she started with a distraught voice, and then she gasped as her eyes widened.

"There it is," the dark lord said, materialising a large cushion and a second after he'd placed it behind her, she collapsed against it.

After what felt like a long duration of pleasure and peace, Hermione's mind started to become alert and she rapidly blinked, as she attempted to sit up straight. Soon she began to have crystal clear clarity for a few seconds and then, without warning her mind would become foggy again. As her mental powers became cloudy once more, she squeezed the cushion she was leaning on with a smile on her face. It was so soft and the texture of the velvet like surface, felt like grains of that wonderful shiny powder. More would be nice but she wasn't allowed. At least her mad cravings for it had subsided, but the desire for it still seemed to linger at the back of her throat.

Suddenly, Hermione had 100% mental awareness and she jumped into an upright sitting position with her spine straight, before looking towards the dark lord with an expression of shock and disbelief. The witch pointed her index finger, ready to say something when her mind became clogged again, and she could no longer remember the words.

Hermione opened and closed her mouth, as she lowered her hand while rapidly blinking. Suddenly, the information came to her knowledge again. Her mind was a mess, but she could still kind of think. The witch pointed her finger again with a slightly shaky hand, and the heir of Slytherin's laid back posture and expression said, he was finding her actions awfully entertaining.
"Oh my God," Hermione suddenly said, looking and sounding shocked. "Riddle-" she added in a voice that was a little shaky. "Riddle, you're a-" the witch continued while her pointed finger swayed side to side. "You're a junkie, Riddle." Hermione finally managed to say in a loud voice, as she shook her head side to side. "An actual junkie," she added with an expression of denial and disbelief, as her outstretched hand dropped to her side.
"I've never sold any junk metal to obtain it," Tom said, raising an eyebrow. "So I'm not a junkie," he added, shaking his head before smirking.
"You know what I mean," the head girl said in an annoyed voice as an irritated look flashed on her face. "You're a, you're a-" damn it, her brain was stuck again.
"My dear colleague," he said, putting his hands behind his head and Hermione's pulse quickened, as the words my dear repeated in her mind. It felt nice to hear-it wasn't real because-because-err-. "I believe the words you're looking for are dope fiend, or dark substance maniac." Tom continued with an expression that appeared challenging and daring, before his lips twisted to reflect a small smile.
He was right, she could recall the words dark substance maniac and in the wizarding world, it was the equivalent of being a drug addict.
"Yes, that's-that's it" Hermione burst out in a high pitched voice before smiling widely.
"Welcome to the dark side," he said in a low voice before winking at her, and a sudden strong rush of emotions made her heart feel like it would burst.

"No," Hermione whispered as she collapsed back onto the cushion again, was it her feelings or the drug she'd taken? She did not have feelings for him, and of course she wasn't in her right mind. He was just joking around and his brain had obviously softened, from all the truckload of drugs he'd inhaled.
"Granger," Tom suddenly said and her shoulders jumped, as she realised his voice sounded really close to her. "Are you in pain?" he asked and his voice sounded concerned. She slowly raised her head up to find him and his cushion, now only a few centimetres apart from her.

Hermione shook her head to say no, her mind was getting fuzzy again and a vocal reply suddenly seemed complicated. "Then what did you mean by no earlier?" he questioned, raising an eyebrow and his serious expression, had become replaced by an amused one.
"I-I'm-I don't-" The witch voiced with a lost expression. Ah, what had she wanted to say?
"You don't like being labelled dark," Tom stated in a sarcastic tone. "Cruciatus curse, what category do you think that belongs too?" he continued, emphasising curse, as he pulled out a vial from his pocket. Hermione gave him an annoyed look as she rubbed her temples, she wasn't perfect but she wasn't evil. She was good, was she?

She'd done terrible things during the war, she'd made a death eater fall with her killing curse, and even now she was planning a murder.
"I'm-I'm not-" Hermione started in a distressed tone.
"Calm yourself," The dark said commandingly. "Light and dark are meaningless categories." he added in a bitter tone. "Duality is a great illusion, it's all about power" he continued in a louder voice, before drinking the contents of the small bottle in his hands, and when he made the empty vial disappear, the witch watched wide eyed as she came to another shocking conclusion. Those vials he drank from when he got angry, they weren't simple potions but more drugs. "You're thoughts are correct," Tom said with a smirk. "One does not have to be a dark person, in order to do dark things." he added, leaning against his cushion. "Aurors kill, does anyone ever call them a murderer?" he said, closing his eyes and Hermione hugged herself. "In my opinion, act and reason both matter." he added, and she rapidly blinked as her eyes threatened to water. "Society views inhaling silver snow as a dark thing," Tom continued opening his eyes, and Hermione lowered her head. "I don't think it makes you dark, even if you have to step into the darkness for a short time." he added. "Granger," Tom said in a sudden raised voice, and she looked up with a startled expression. "Are you alright?" he asked with a worried look.

"I'm-I'm not evil," she said, clutching her head as she found it hard to gather her thoughts. Yes, reason mattered and she had a very good reason. Ah, the drugs had done something to her emotions. She moved her fingertips to her temples and momentarily closed her eyes.

"You're not evil, Granger." The Slytherin said, shaking his head and as she stared at him, she stopped blinking. "If you were, you would not tolerate so much darkness without any personal gain." He continued, lowering his gaze and Hermione couldn't help the guilty expression on her face.

Oh, Merlin. He meant enduring all his evil acts, and he mistakenly thought it was all selfless kindness that she couldn't help. Yikes, that evil git Malfoy had been right. "99% of the world is evil," Tom said, closing his eyes for a moment while clenching his hands into fists. "The world is a dangerous place," he said, opening his eyes. "Usually, the more better people are, the more bad consequences they will have." The dark lord said, raising his head and finding his gaze piercing, she took in a sharp intake of breath. "You must never be so good towards another, as you have been to me." he said, in a voice saturated with equal amounts of jealously and protectiveness, and the emotions were powerful enough to make her almost flinch. Oh Merlin, why did she feel so-? "They will take advantage of you," Tom said in a low voice as he looked towards the ground, and she couldn't stop herself from feeling guilt, admiration and fear. This was way scarier than him being evil, what the hell was happening? "Do you understand?" he said, raising his voice as he looked at her again, and she clutched her cushion with more force than necessary.

"Why?" Hermione almost whispered before instantly regretting it. "As if you really-" she started disbelievingly, not a good idea to be horrible when she was out here and isolated. "Why would you care?" she asked as a sad expression almost made its way to her face, all the people that cared were dead, and he was the reason. Seconds later, she wished she hadn't asked. She didn't want to hear his fake explanation, but what if he genuinely-no, no.

"Does everything need a reason and a label?" Tom said, creasing his forehead. "Are you only satisfied when you've categorised everything, into little boxes of black and white?" he continued in an annoyed tone.

As expected, he didn't have an actual answer because it wasn't true, and she couldn't help feel satisfied but also disappointed at the same time.

"Of course I care," Tom whispered, looking away from her and her eyes widened, as her heart lurched. Did he-did he really say that? Suddenly, he looked at her again and she took in a deep breath as her pulse quickened. There was emotion in his eyes, and his expression seemed to have a softness she'd never seen before. "The two of us," Tom said in a slightly unsteady voice, and her eyes widened as the word us repeated in her mind. Hermione opened and closed her mouth, as a strange feeling pooled in her stomach. It was warmth similar to happiness, yet at the same time she wanted to cry from sadness. She wanted to tell him to not say another word, but she found she wasn't brave enough. "We-" he started, then he seemed to hesitate and she mentally shouted shut up, as she dug her fingers into her palms. "Aren't we sort of friends?" he said softly as he looked towards the floor once more, and a shocked expression plastered on her face.

Oh my God, Merlin. Did he really think they were friends? Voldemort didn't have or need friends, Dumbledore had repeatedly said that. Of course, her so called selfless tolerance of his evilness, had made him think this is what she wanted and he was offering it to her, to manipulate her into eventually becoming a death eater, because the knowledge she'd displayed might be useful to him in the future.

This is how he must've gotten to Bellatrix, no way would she be another Bellatrix. Even when he was acting, he couldn't bring himself to say friends as he'd said sort of friends.

Suddenly, an electric like jolt washed over head and she gasped, as she touched her temples. Her thoughts were all over the place, and once again she found it hard to think as strong emotions filled her heart. "Granger," she heard Tom say as her vision went hazy, and she could almost make out his silhouette that appeared really close to her. "Don't fight it, just relax." He added in a commanding tone. That goddamn powder drug, silver whatever was really messing her up and making her feel-ah, Merlin's beard. Oh, wow. It felt so good, all her sadness and negativity was gone. All that remained was happiness and pure pleasure.

Suddenly, there was a burst of red star like dots dancing in front of her eyes and finding them cute, she couldn't help laugh out loud. Then she smiled widely as her vision cleared, and she could see everything once more. Tom also had a smile on his face, and he was now lying against his cushion again. God, he looked so handsome lying down like with that. It was wrong to like him like that, yes but she wasn't going to really do anything. Nothing wrong with thinking and admiring. Evil or not, he really was a beautiful thing. That gorgeous body

wrapped in all that silk and satin, yummy. So great he'd told her she was his-what had he said? That she was his friend, yes that was it. Wonderful that he thought they were friends, surely she could make use of that and-wait, it was very wrong to-. He was dead man walking, so what happened to him now would become irrelevant in the future.

Voldemort had caused her so much pain, then wasn't it fair to use Tom Riddle to get some pleasure? Yes, why not. Hermione laughed out loud as the word pleasure repeated in her mind, and she touched her cheeks as they suddenly felt strangely hot. The word happiness was more suitable than pleasure but then again, thinking the word pleasure in the same sentence as Tom Riddle, made her feel giddy and excited and brought its own kind of happiness, so why not as it was just thoughts.

"In reply to what you asked earlier," Hermione said with a joyful and shy expression. "Yes, we can be considered as being friends." She said lowering her gaze before a huge smile plastered on her visage, and soon she looked up to find a toothy smile on his face. Suddenly, she felt the urge to laugh out loud and a second later he joined in, like her laughter had infected him. "I'm not as brilliant as you," she said after pausing to catch a breath. "Do you really see me as your friend?" she added in a voice with a worried undertone. Everything was good, why on earth had she said that? Damn it, that feeling of ecstasy had worn of and that's why.

"Why else would I share ice king's finest silver snow with you? Tom said, raising an eyebrow before smiling at her, and the pleasurable feeling seemed to return at the same time. Merlin's beard, it was true. She was about to smile back when she remembered something, and a shocked expression flashed on her face.

"The ice king's a dark substance dealer?" she said questioningly.

"Would the aurors want him desperately if he sold ice or ice cream?" The Slytherin said, rolling his eyes. "I'm really starting to regret my friendship with you?" he added jokingly before smiling at her. The witch instantly smiled back, but when the happy feelings decreased worrying thoughts raced to the front of her mind. This silver snow seemed like the equivalent of cocaine or heroin, so it must be expensive. How could he afford-even if he could, why would he share something so-? Not share, force. Hermione's eyes widened as she recalled being imperioed, she'd inhaled it because he'd made her to do it.

"Riddle," she said, appearing and sounding distressed and the dark lord's relaxed expression became tensed. "You didn't share it with me, you-" she continued, raising her voice.

"I didn't have a choice," he said, interrupting. "I'm sure you wouldn't have taken it otherwise," the Slytherin added with a guilty expression. True but he'd had no right to-? Rights, free will-ha. This was young Voldemort, actually this was his way of being nice to her. Oh God, holy mother Mary. Really expensive drugs wasted on her, a not so good looking nobody. The really scary question was, why had he isolated her here and then in his own way, chosen to be so nice to her?

"Silver snow must be really expensive," Hermione asked in a low voice, while clasping her hands tightly.

"It is," he said, shaking his head. "I have my ways of acquiring it," he said breaking eye contact. For a second she wanted to pry, then she decided it was better to not know of the diabolical methods he'd employed, to achieve something like that.

"Why would you waste it on me?" she asked, raising her voice.

"To make you happy," the dark lord said, sounding under pressure. "You were very sad," he added hesitantly. She took in a sharp intake of breath as the memories came to the front of her mind, oh God. Those feelings and that sadness hadn't been normal.

"To be sad like that isn't normal for me," the witch started in a factual tone. "It isn't normal for you to be so caring," she continued in almost disgusted voice, and he momentarily closed his eyes. "You did something to me, didn't you?" she asked in a distressed tone and a guilty look took hold of his face. "Something very traumatising," she continued in a shaky voice, "You obliviated the memories, but you were too distracted to properly remove the emotions associated with them." She concluded in a loud and angry tone. That was the only thing that made sense, why else would she be so sad without any reason.

"You're correct," Tom said in a regretful tone as he looked towards the ground. "The fault is entirely mine,"

"What did you do to me?" Hermione questioned angrily with wide eyes. "What the hell did you do to me?" she shouted with a fearful expression, and he continued to remain silent with his head bowed. "Answer me," she added in a desperate tone, before a teardrop escaped her eye.

"Forgive me," Tom said, looking up and his expression looked really apologetic. "Obliviation was is in your best interest," he added, looking away from her again. "By the end of tonight, the unwanted negative emotions should disappear."

"That's not what I want," she said in a livid voice. "I want to know-"

"No," Tom shouted, punching the floor, and her shoulders jumped with a fearful expression. "Life isn't fair unless you have power to make it so," he continued, looking and sounding angry. "Unless you can acquire your wand," he added in a taunting tone. "Subjugate me with magic and force me to tell you." Tom continued with cold laughter in his voice. "I will dictate what happens," he hissed. "Do you understand?" he shouted, pointing his wand, and she flinched in fear before bursting into tears. "I'm so sorry," he said in a high pitched voice, as he hastily put away his wand. "Don't cry," he said, reaching for her face with his handkerchief and she wanted to draw back, but she felt too scared to refuse him. "You don't want me to," the dark lord said, realising after he'd touched her skin with the square cloth.

"Talk to me," he said when she didn't reply, and his voice had sounded more desperate than commanding.

"No," she finally said in a shaky voice and after dropping the handkerchief in her lap, he drew back. But instead of using it, she wiped her face with the back of her hands and looked at anything but him.

"I didn't intend to hurt you," Tom suddenly said in a soft voice. "I don't want to hurt you," he continued, sounding distressed. "I'm not saying you should forgive me," he added in a slightly unsteady voice. "I just want you to know, I'm sorry." Tom finished in a low apologetic voice, and she rapidly blinked with an annoyed expression, as she couldn't help feel a little moved by what he'd said. Maybe the effects of the drugs were coming back, or he was saying all that because he was high on drugs himself, and if he was acting then it was truly out of this world.

Despite everything, he was right about one thing. He had a wand and she didn't, so now he was the one with all the power. Therefore, it was in her best interest to do what he wanted, and keep him happy. Regardless of a few deviations, wasn't that the big plan that would allow her mission to succeed in the end. Yes, and so him thinking of her as a friend was a bonus. Whether it was true or not, it showed that he thought she was low enough, to be able to be easily manipulated by him. Besides, the other not so evil side of him could be kind of nice. The silver snow drug had been ecstasy beyond words, and since he was going to die anyway, she should just use Tom Riddle to have a good time whenever she could.

No denying he was very handsome and that wonderful powder-. Merlin, had she really just thought-? The effects of the drug must be coming back, that was what it was, had to be. "I won't forgive you," Hermione started in an unsure voice, and his shoulders visibly slumped as he continued to stare towards the ground. Crap, she should've started with something else. "But I can try to let it go," she added hastily and a second later, he raised his head and the intense look in his eyes, almost brought her to tears as a strange burst of emotions filled her heart. Ah, those drugs, was it really-yes, had to be. Suddenly, he gave her a small smile and she instantly smiled back.

Great, things were good between them again. "Silver snow on Christmas month, genius." the witch said cheerfully before breaking out in giggles, yeah that was the drugs because she was too happy.

"I'm glad you're enjoying it," he said, settling back against his cushion again.

"I've always loved this time of the year," Hermione said in a high pitched voice, waving her hands and the Slytherin's expression darkened. Suddenly, a pain filled gap seemed to form in her heart and soon, her face reflected sadness. "I hate it now," she almost snapped, punching her cushion and Tom sat up straight, with a tense expression. "How fortunate to have a skilled friend that can obliviate traumatising memories," the witch added in bittersweet tone and a sad smile, and the Slytherin looked towards the ground with a guilty expression. "If only you could erase all the other ones," she added with a haunted appearance, and Tom immediately looked up. "Even in my sleep I can't be free," she continued closing her eyes, and then she rapidly blinked as tears attempted to form, and she glanced the dark lord staring ahead with a troubled expression. Arrgh, the misery and pain stabbing her heart, she hated it. If only-yes, there was. Silver snow, it had and it could free her. "Riddle," Hermione started in a pleading voice and he turned his face away from her, like he knew what she would say next. "Can I have more?" she asked in a desperate tone, and he nodded his head to say no. "Just one more, please." She begged in a trembling voice as she held out her hands.

"Be patient, you'll feel better soon." Tom said, still avoiding her eyes and an angry expression plastered on her face.

At this moment she didn't care about what he would do to her, the negative emotions and the addiction were driving her crazy.

"Hypocrite," Hermione hissed, placing a hand over her chest. "You've inhaled multiple lines, and now you dare to act all high and mighty." She added in a loud and angry voice, and as the dark lord immediately made eyes contact, she almost flinched.

"Do you know why some people pretend to have a high value?" Tom said with a piercing gaze, and she momentarily held her breath. "Because they're so inexpensive, that they have no value." he continued in a mechanical voice. God knows what he meant, her mind was too far gone to even attempt to figure it out. But he did look sad and suddenly, she couldn't help feel sorry for him.

"I can't think properly, I don't understand." Hermione said in an apologetic voice, as she shook her head side to side. "I'm sorry," she added, digging her nails into her cushion.

"No, the fault is entirely mine." he said in a low apologetic voice.

"Incorrect," the witch said in an irritated tone while clutching her head. "It's not just you, it's everything." She added in a louder voice. "I just want it to stop," she continued in an almost wailing voice. "I need it to make it stop," Hermione almost whispered as she grabbed hold of her hair. "I want more, please." She almost shouted, as the pulling actions of her fingers messed her un-neat hair even more, and he nodded his head to say no.

"Calm yourself, you still have a few more hours." Tom said with a sympathetic expression.

"I don't understand," the witch said with a confused expression, as her thoughts seemed to scatter all over her mind. "Hurts," she whispered, placing her hands over her chest.

"Be patient, it'll return." The dark lord said, lowering his gaze. "The more awful you feel, the closer you are to feeling the effects again." He added, conjuring a goblet before filling it with water.

The witch was about to snap at him for being a liar, when she felt dizzying pleasure envelope her for a few seconds, and she almost fell from her sitting position.

"It's-it's really-" she started and found she couldn't finish. A second later, she smiled and after taking a sip from his goblet, the Slytherin also smiled. Oh, wow. It felt so good, totally out of this world. It was too much, she had to lie down and soon, she fell backwards onto her cushion with a happy expression. The soothing darkness and the beauty of being nothing, it was peace and freedom.

As light that seemed bright assaulted her vision, she rapidly blinked before slowly sitting up with an annoyed expression. Seconds later, everything came into focus and she could see clearly. She was where she had been and the dark lord was leaning against his cushion, but his hands were no longer holding a goblet. God knows how long she'd been gone, but silver snow was worth every minute of lost time. The effects were wearing off even more, she could feel it. She really needed more but he wouldn't-. The witch shook her head side to side as her thoughts seemed to have become stuck, after a couple of seconds she could think again and soon, Hermione's eyes widened as a question she couldn't help came to her mind.

She was in love with the shiny powder because it granted her happiness and peace, but what reason could the dark lord have for becoming an addict of silver snow? He was handsome, intelligent, magically powerful, and the professors and many students adored him. Except being mega rich like Malfoy, he almost had it all so then why was he doing hard drugs? Without warning, she felt a wave of happiness wash over her and it gave her courage, to voice the question she otherwise wouldn't have.

"You're so brilliant at everything," Hermione started with a puzzled expression, and the Slytherin almost smiled, before realising from her expression that it wasn't a simple compliment. "Why are you-?" she trailed off as her mind switched to full function in that moment, and the dark lord immediately looked at the floor.

"I-I can't-" Tom said in controlled voice as his hands slightly shook, and her fearful expression banished. Suddenly, he hugged himself before twisting his upper body towards the wall, and she couldn't help feel sorry for him. At the same time, her thoughts told her it was an error and she briefly touched her temples, with an irritated expression.

Sure, it wasn't right to feel bad for him but the visual, and her jumbled mind must be forcing her to feel empathy. Plus, in his insane point of view, he must view not being an immortal yet as something sad, so he must fear death everyday and together with the burden of his strange illness, it had obviously resulted in constant mental pain and when silver snow had provided relief, he'd sought solace in drugs and ended up an addict. Even if it was unique to every person and all in the mind, she knew the suffering from mental wounds was very real and she detested with passion, the ignorant people that casually said get over it or just forget about it, as if it didn't exist just because they couldn't physically see it.

"Why you're doing this, whatever it is-" Hermione started in a soft voice before hesitating. She should stop talking, it could get her in serious trouble. Suddenly, she felt the opposite. She should speak, because she was right and the ignorant world was wrong. "I'm not going to say you should forget," the witch continued in a louder voice. "Because that's a load of bloody rubbish," she added in an almost angry tone. "You have to learn to live with it, until it's like pages in a history book." Hermione said in a quieter voice with a sad tone. "Not erased, always existing but in the past." She added with a haunted expression. "Distraction, escapism and a future free from it. That might somewhat be freedom, but the past always keeps catching up, and chaining itself to the present." The witch said in an almost tearful voice, as a troubled expression reflected from her face. "Round and round in circles with no end." She added, emphasising end and a second later, the dark lord un-twisted his upper half.

"Well said," Tom suddenly voiced after a moment had passed in silence and startled, she rapidly blinked. "So far, the circle has proven itself to be un-breakable," he continued, lowering his hands to his sides while raising his head, and as she registered the expression on his face, she couldn't help feel shocked. "But under the right circumstances one can temporarily step out of it," the Slytherin added as he turned sideways, then he leaned back against his cushion and closed his eyes.

Everything seemed to have come to a pause, but her mind was racing with thoughts. His face, the glimpse she'd caught earlier had shown her intense sadness. He'd looked very human and she'd never seen him like that before. Was he really capable of such emotion or had she been hallucinating? She was on drugs so maybe- he was on drugs too, so perhaps it was one of the many effects of that. Yes, that made more sense than the dark lord possessing a heart full of human feelings. Feelings, hmm. That wonderful feeling was coming back, it was so beautiful and freeing. Speaking of beautiful, that God like young man that appeared asleep was so handsome. What did it matter if he had genuine emotions or not, as long as his display of emotions brought her pleasure.

Merlin, it was so wrong to-but it felt really good and wasn't that the most important thing? Hermione smiled before collapsing on her large cushion again, seconds later her eyes rolled back and once more, she found herself completely at peace.

After what felt like hours, she was torn from her paradise and as her eyes detected light, Hermione felt like crying. She probably would've burst into tears, if it wasn't for those strange soothing sounds that'd made her feel calm. What were those noises? It didn't sound human, but it was wonderfully captivating and hypnotic. As pain tried to invade her heart, the witch closed her eyes in an attempt to focus more on the otherworldly melody. It wasn't long before all her senses seemed to have become immersed in it, and once again she slipped into unconsciousness. But unlike before, this new world she'd arrived at brought her no peace. Instead, it offered her the horrors of her past, mixed with new brutalities and the merciless pain torturing her heart made her scream, and scream.

"Granger," a faraway sounding voice called. "Granger," it repeated in a more urgent tone as she screamed again. Suddenly, the hellish world vanished and as her eyes found Tom Riddle's face above her, she screamed once more.

"Calm yourself," he said, releasing her shoulders and she looked back and forth with a fearful expression, while desperately searching for her wand. How had Voldemort captured her, where were Harry and Ron? "Perhaps it would be beneficial if you got up," young Voldemort said, reaching for her arms, and she immediately jumped into a sitting position with a terrified look. "You're safe," he said with a concerned expression, as he moved back a few centimetres, and she hugged herself with a confused and frightened appearance. "You had a nightmare," he continued, emphasising nightmare. "I assumed you were still under the silver snow sleep," Silver snow, those words were familiar. "My singing must've encouraged you to actually fall asleep," Tom added with a thoughtful expression, and a gasp escaped her lips while her hands fell to her sides, as she suddenly remembered everything.

She'd slipped into a bad dream, it wasn't reality. In her real world, she was stuck in the past and this wasn't Harry's Tom Riddle, it was her Tom. Her what? Merlin what on earth was she thinking? She wasn't in her right mind because she was on hard drugs, yes that was it.

"I'm sorry, I-" Hermione started with an embarrassed expression.

"I should be the one saying that," the Slytherin interrupted and she wondered if she'd heard right. Then she almost panicked in fear before remembering, he'd said earlier that he'd caused her to fall asleep.

"It's alright," the witch said, shaking her head side to side. "I doubt it was your intention to-" she trailed off with a troubled look as she recalled he'd said, his singing had resulted in her easily falling into slumber. Lies, he'd sung no song otherwise she would've remembered something. Oh God, what had he actually-?

"Are you feeling unwell?" Tom suddenly asked with a concerned expression, and she almost flinched.

"Erm-no." Hermione replied in a rushed voice. "Err-strangely I can't remember, I'm curious. What were you singing?" Why the hell did she say that? It was in her best interest to keep everything calm and happy. "That is if you don't mind," she quickly added. There, she'd given him a way out.

"I don't mind but it's hard to put in words." he said, creasing his forehead and she had the urge to roll her eyes. Dramatic, but coming from him it was a weak excuse. "I mean human words," the dark lord added and she momentarily stopped breathing. Hermione suddenly remembered hearing strange sounds in a drowsy state, was he trying to say that he-. "I was singing in Parseltongue," Tom said, finishing her thought and a shocked look flashed on her face.

"You can sing in Parseltongue," she said disbelievingly.

"It's a vocal language," the dark lord said, emphasising vocal. "If one can speak it, then one could also sing in it." He added in a tone that implied she was kind of dumb to miss that.

"My mind isn't in the best state right now," Hermione said a little frostily. Damn slimy snake. As if Parseltongue was a normal language, why couldn't she presume the normal rules didn't apply?

"I didn't intend for that to be an insult," the Slytherin said with an apologetic look before giving her a smile.

"I see," she said coldly before slightly smiling. She was about to stretch the corners of her lips further upwards, when she suddenly remembered something.

Shiv Patil had told her before that not all Parselmouths could sing in Parseltongue, and those that could had the power to hypnotise snakes. Then she'd arrived at the conclusion, that when she'd witnessed Tom use Parseltongue in the forbidden forest, most of it had been more hypnotic and melodious, compared to Harry's Parseltongue because he'd been singing in Parseltongue, not talking. Had Harry ever attempted it or had it never crossed his mind? Maybe or maybe not, she had no idea. Too late now, he was gone. Everyone from her life was gone, her whole world had vanished. It was just her now and everything was literally foreign.

"Granger," a male voice suddenly said and she blinked, startled. Before realising it was Tom, he looked concerned and he appeared much closer to her than before, she'd been so lost in her memories that she hadn't noticed. "Drink this," he said, holding a vial towards her and she tried not to look as alarmed as she felt. "It's meant to stop nightmares," he added, lowering his hand, as he seemed to realise his earlier action had been intimidating.

"Oh," Hermione said feeling relieved. "Thank you, but they don't work for me anymore."

"This one's different," the dark lord said, holding up the potion again. "It's one of my recent creations," he continued in a tone that sounded almost boastful, and her eyes slightly widened. She was impressed, but she still couldn't help feel jealous of his talents.

"Sounds like a dream," the witch said in a bittersweet tone. "But since it somewhat dents my ego, I may have to politely refuse." She added, curtly bowing her head.

A second later, Tom started to laugh out loud and she couldn't help wonder, if he'd found her behaviour just funny or if he was ridiculing her.

"I can't recall ever receiving such a combination of praise and refusal." The dark lord said breathlessly. "No need to feel so self conscious, it's just us and aren't we as good as friends?" he continued, holding the vial towards her once again and she paled a little. God, there it was again, those words us and friend. Seconds later, she forced a smile on her face. There was no turning back now, she had to keep going and if he wanted an illusion of friendship, then so be it.

"If you put it like that," Hermione said, crossing her legs. "Then I can hardly refuse," she added, as she held out her right hand with its palm upwards. He dropped the vial into her possession with a smile and the second it touched her skin, she couldn't help feel under pressure. She was supposed to drink it, yes. Then she should get on with it, only it was one thing to say it and another thing to do it. Actually, it was much easier ingesting whatever he wanted when she was imperiused. Holy mother-did she just think -?

"If I wanted to really harm you, I would have by now." The Slytherin said coldly while crossing his arms, and she almost flinched.

"I know," Hermione said, letting her dispirited expression show on her face. "Not much effort in compliance is required when someone forces you," she started with an unsure expression, and all signs of emotion immediately disappeared from the dark lord's face. "When you have to use your own free will, it's hard." Hermione continued in a lower voice, and Tom's hands dropped to his sides as he looked down at the floor. Oh lord, she'd thought the truth would be better than a lie, but she'd pissed him off, hadn't she? "Forgive me, I doubt I'm making any sense." The witch added in a rushed voice.

"On the contrary," the Slytherin said in an almost whispering voice. "I understand," he added as he looked up again and his expression was still blank. Merlin, was he angry or not?

"I'm sorry, I didn't intend to displease you." She said hurriedly while positioning the vial upright, better safe than sorry. Arrgh, she should've forced herself to quickly drink the damn thing at the start.

"Stop," he said as she was about to unscrew the lid, and she almost dropped the vial in fear.

"Don't be afraid," he added, raising his hands as he somehow realised he'd scared her and still feeling cautious, the witch took in a deep breath. "Drink it when you're ready, or don't if you don't want to." The Slytherin continued, lowering his hands and she stared at him like he'd grown two heads. Wasn't he being too nice to her? Must be the effect of all that drug he'd inhaled, yes that made more sense than-erm-. "Trust me," Tom suddenly said in a tone that seemed to be almost pleading with her to do so, while his face displayed a sincere expression to match and the feel of everything was so genuine, that it shocked her into almost dropping the vial once again.

Was this some kind of a test, to see if she'd brought into the whole friendship thingy? Most likely, and to prove herself she had to drink that potion right now. "I trust you," Hermione said while removing the lid from the vial, and as she drank the potion a disbelieving expression flashed on the dark lord's face. "I trust you sometimes, if I'm entirely truthful." the witch voiced as she screwed the top back on. Better to add something slightly negative, might be suspicious if she was too readily compliant.

Suddenly, a toothy smile appeared on Tom's face and then he briefly laughed out loud. As she held the empty vial towards him, she couldn't help herself from smiling widely. Was that necessary? A small brief smile would've sufficed to fit in with his current behaviour, then why-? No, she was actually feeling happy. Yes, there was that weird feeling of joy in her heart. Strange, why-? Oh, Merlin. The happy effects of the drug was coming back and it was slowly starting to numb her mind, she could feel it creeping around the edges of her skull. Ah, no she didn't want-. Mmm, sweet Jesus, Holy Mother Mary. Wow, yes. It was so wonderful, she loved and needed this feeling.

"Half trust is better than nothing," Tom said, gripping the bottom of the vial while its top half was still being held by her.

"I agree," Hermione said with a smile on her face, but her mind was thinking of something entirely different than trust. Unfortunate that such a beautiful creature had to die, she should make some use of him while he was still breathing, because wouldn't that be better than nothing? "Better than nothing," she added, glancing down at their hands that were still joined by the small glass bottle. Then, they both stared at each other un-moving. His face was expressionless and she couldn't bring herself to blink, as she couldn't help feel guilty. Merlin, how in God's name had she thought-? Well, she was on drugs and obviously she'd meant to make use of him in ways that weren't sinful. Yes, of course.

Suddenly, Hermione realised he was waiting for her to let go. "Sorry," she said, finally pulling her hand away from the vial. "My mind just suddenly froze," she lied in a slightly high pitched voice, as she looked at anything but him.

"That used to happen to me when I started silver snow," he said before briefly laughing out loud, and while staring at the painted snitch on the mat she was sitting on, she smiled as a wave of pleasurable feelings washed through her. Mmm, yes. It was coming back and she wanted more. Suddenly, she realised something. His laughter had been different, it hadn't been high pitched and cold. It had sounded more carefree and human, and it was nice. Yes, nice and surely, there was nothing wrong with liking his laughter, when it sounded like laughter born from genuine merriment.

"Granger, are you alright?" Tom asked in a serious tone as he moved a little closer.

"Yes," Hermione answered, raising her head and as she realised he was much closer to her than before, she couldn't help smile. "I feel happy," she added in a chirpy voice, she really was and the way he looked now was a bonus. The satin shirt highlighted the brilliant contours of his arms, chest and shoulders, in a way that a cotton shirt never could have. If you added the fact that two of the top buttons were undone, and his un-neat hair appeared like bed hair, it really made for a delicious, drool worthy visual.

"I'm glad you feel that way," he said with a smile, and her eyes widened in mortification and terror. Oh, God. Did he just-no he hadn't read her mind. She took in a deep breath feeling relieved, she'd said she was happy and he was just responding to that.

After a few seconds, a worried look plastered on her face. Now that she was on drugs, would her occulumency still work? This type of intoxication made her too happy or made her mind freeze, so theoretically she should be fine. Since it was no guarantee, it was wise not to do anything that would make him want to pry into her mind. Especially, with a wand cast Legilimency as she most likely couldn't resist that, even when she wasn't on drugs.

"What's wrong?" the dark lord suddenly questioned, leaning his upper half towards her and her eyes widened in panic. Lord almighty, he-no he wasn't onto her and she needed to act normal, before he really started to suspect something.

"Headache," Hermione said after a sharp intake of breath, and then she briefly touched her forehead.

"I see," the Slytherin said with a mildly concerned expression. "That should subside as your brain gets used to silver snow," he added, un-tilting his upper half back to the centre of his body, and realising he wasn't suspicious of anything, her heart calmed. She stared back unfazed as he stared at her, and it wasn't long before a small smile was on her face. The blissful waves of pleasure were returning, and they felt stronger than before. This feeling was so joyful and ecstatic, she never wanted it to end. She wanted to permanently remain in this state and forever stare at the handsome face, that'd been sculpted with ethereal perfection and beauty.

Wasn't it wrong to-? No, she did want it and it would hurt no one, and most importantly, it would make her very happy. "Feeling better," Tom suddenly said with a smiling expression and her heart fluttered in delight. Merlin, he was gorgeous.

"Yes," she replied and she had to hold herself back from smiling widely. Too many of those might reveal the true nature of her thoughts and she didn't want anyone to know, especially him.

"There's something in your hair," he said, leaning towards her once again and she momentarily stopped breathing.

"What is it?" Hermione said in a rushed voice, as she ran her hands over her skull. "Is it gone now?" she asked, looking at her empty hands with a wondering expression.

"No," Tom replied, raising his right hand. "Confetti," He said, placing his thumb and index finger on her head. She almost flinched as her heart rate doubled, and her cheeks coloured dark pink. "A single piece," he added, gently pulling on some of her hair strands and as her breath quickened, she couldn't help but appreciate the fragrance that he wore. That wonderful scent of sandalwood and cloves, with its notes faultlessly balanced. "There," he said, dropping a small red circle made of tissue paper in her hands and almost startled, she rapidly blinked as it'd escaped her mind that she was still holding out her hands like that.

"This must be from the Christmas crackers," Hermione said in a slightly unsteady voice while keeping her eyes lowered, as she suddenly felt too shy to directly look at him.

"Is the headache worsening?" Tom asked, placing both of his hands flat against the mat covered ground, and the sudden sight of his unusual long fingers made her rapidly blink.

Merlin, she hadn't realised she'd been staring at the confetti piece for some time. "Perhaps, you would benefit from lying down," he added in a concerned tone while removing his hands from the ground, as he pulled his upper half backwards until his spine was straight.

"Not necessary," Hermione said in a controlled voice, as feelings of joy continued to build in her chest. Even if it was sweet and uncomfortable at the same time, she had to look up now because it was bordering on abnormal behaviour. Especially for her and the dark lord, and she didn't want him to be suspicious of her in any way. "It sparked a memory," Hermione lied, picking up the festive confetti particle with her fingers, before gaining the courage to look up and as she caught a caring expression briefly on his face, she accidentally let go of the small tissue paper. "My thoughts became stuck and I forgot," she added in a rushed voice, as her eyes searched for the fallen confetti. "I was trying to remember," the witch continued, finally locating the red miniature dot lying on the white mat, like a drop of blood on snow covered ground.

Only it wasn't that, just an optical illusion. Just like the dark lord with his false appearances, but what did it matter as long as the emotions he put on made her happy? Yes, true. "If it's taking that long, it's obviously trivial." Hermione said, reaching for the confetti piece. "Best left forgotten," she added, swatting away the small circular tissue paper, until it settled somewhere out of her sight.

"That seems wise," Tom said and as she looked at him again, the happy feeling saturating her body felt like it'd doubled.

A small smile was on his face, and it wasn't long before she smiled back at him. A few seconds passed in silence, as they both sat still and stared at each other. Then the Slytherin became the first one to move, when he raised a hand and swiped away the hair strands that were threatening to fall into his eyes. The action itself was simple and un-interesting but in her eyes, Hermione couldn't help find the act adorable.

Suddenly, something small and shiny caught her attention. As she located it near the young dark lord's right cheekbone, she assumed it was a drug induced hallucination, before realising it was luminous grains of silver snow.

"There's some silver snow on your face," Hermione said with a cheerful expression, then a worried look flashed on her face as she mentally told herself off for talking without thinking. Well, she was drugged up and surely, he wouldn't get mad at her for stating a harmless truth. Plus, he did point out the confetti piece in her hair.

"I see," the Slytherin said without a trace of malice and then, a half smile that somehow didn't appear sinister, showed on his face for a moment and all her worries vanished.

Soon, he wiped his fingers up and down the centre of his face, and then he gave her a questioning look.

"To the right," Hermione said after shaking her head to say no, and he touched the right side of his face but his fingers were much lower than the target. "More upwards," she added, shaking her head again. He rubbed the skin under his eye and still missed. Uh, he could've used a conjured a mirror. Instead, he was a freak that couldn't stand to look at one, and she had to act like she had no idea. "Near your ear," the witch instructed, pointing with her left hand. If it wasn't so small and magical, as magical drugs had magical properties that could affect spells, he could've used his wand with 100% confidence. Maybe he should attempt a spell or wipe his face with a handkerchief, why wasn't he using his-? Of course, they weren't normal as his handkerchiefs were enchanted to absorb blood without leaving a trace. The charm might interact negatively with the strong magical elements of silver snow, so it was best avoided.

He should just give up and wipe his face with his silky sleeves. "It's still there," she said, indicating with her finger again, as the shiny grains had evaded capture through a gap in his fingers. Suddenly, a slight tremor went through her muscles and as it spread waves of pleasure and joy, she couldn't help find his situation really funny. The dark lord attempted again and missed once more. He should give up, drop the unnecessary posh boy act and use his sleeves.

Was he really that determined to succeed with his fingers, or had all the drugs softened his brain a little? Merlin, it was so funny. Lord have mercy on her, she shouldn't laugh out loud no matter how much she wanted to. He might think she was mocking him and get angry, so then she should help him and eliminate the risk entirely.

"May I-?" Hermione started, extending her left hand towards him. The Slytherin froze and at the same time, the clouds of drug induced euphoria cleared from her mind. Her eyes widened and she took in a deep breath, while her outstretched hand slightly shook. Oh, God in heaven. Bloody Merlin, she'd trapped herself in a dangerous situation. Tom hated being touched, he didn't seem to mind hair on the head but in her madness, she'd requested physical contact with his face.

Damn it, she should've thought about it more before doing such a thing. It was the drugs, surely he would understand that it-. No, it wasn't too late to free herself. Intoxication and panic had briefly blocked the most obvious solution from her brain.

"Never mind," she suddenly said in a low controlled voice, as she stared at the dark lord without blinking, and his face didn't seem emotionless but to her, his expression was unreadable. She was sacred, so much that she hadn't realised how long she'd been holding out her hand, or noticed that her arm was aching. "I don't know why-" Hermione started in an apologetic tone, as she lowered her hand.

"You may," Tom interrupted in a low voice with his eyes focused on the ground, and her heart painfully lurched as her eyes widened. Then the witch took in a couple of deep breaths, as she suddenly felt like she was having a heart attack. Bloody Merlin, what in the name of seven heavens-? Had he really said that? Did he really-? Must be a silver snow auditory hallucination, made more sense than-. Why were his hands at his side? He was no longer moving, and it seemed like he was waiting for something.

A heavy feeling pooled in Hermione's stomach while her breath slightly quickened, as she came to a shocking conclusion. Holy mother Mary, oh God. It hadn't been a drug induced delusion, he'd actually said that and he was waiting for her. What in the name of fucking Merlin was he-? Christ, it was all her fault. He'd agreed when he hated touching, that meant he'd shown her special consideration, and if she refused now after being the one to request it in the first place, it would look like she was making a mockery of him. Not a good idea when she was wandless and at his complete mercy. Plus, she needed him to be happy with her and not see her as an enemy.

After taking a deep breath, Hermione slowly raised her left hand again and it felt like it'd doubled in weight. Before, Tom had been forced to dance with her and now that he had free will, why was he making an exception for her if he hated physical contact? Those wild rumours, could they have some truth to them? Did a small part of him like her in some way? Hermione's raised hand almost dropped, and she had to force it to stay up. What the fuck was she-? Hell, no. He had to be asexual, this was just a part of his elaborate manipulation.

The witch momentarily held her breath, and then she made herself lean a little forward. The dark lord most likely wanted to groom her into a death eater, and he was trying to trick her into thinking she was special, that she mattered to him in some way. He'd never be able to fool her but to deceive him, she had to play his sick game. Hermione moved the fingers of her elevated hand a few centimetres forward and then she froze, as it felt like they'd turned to stone. God in heaven, this wasn't something she could-. Yes she could, unless she wanted to enrage the dark lord and get crucioed. No, she had to stop thinking too much and just do it. She'd touched his skin before when they'd held hands during dancing, so this wouldn't be any different, and contact between hand and face wasn't anything sinful. True, then she should do it now.

Hermione deeply inhaled and exhaled a lung full of air, before making her fingers stretch further. Ouch, her left shoulder was starting to ache. That's because the distance was too great, it would be better if she got on her knees instead of sitting cross legged. After a few seconds, the witch did just that while lowering her hand, and then she sat still for a moment. Bloody Merlin, she was stalling. The dark lord seemed to be calmly waiting, but any second now he could lose his patience, so no more excuses.

Hermione momentarily held her breath, and then she forced herself to raise her left hand again. Arrgh, was this really fucking happening? What if-? No more thinking, she had to do it now. Suddenly, a potent feeling of happiness enveloped her and almost instantly, all her worries seemed to vanish. The mind numbing effect was annoying, but everything else about the drug was great. Merlin, this feeling was wonderful. Thank God it had kicked in again at this moment, she could really do with its help. Hermione took in a deep breath as she moved her raised hand nearer to the dark lord, and she couldn't help feel nervous. When her fingers were about a centimetre away, a hesitant look flashed on his face while his eyes continued to gaze towards the ground, and for a second Hermione thought she could quit, before realising he'd gone back to his original state.

Ah, there really was no going back now. And wasn't that a good thing, she thought with a pleased feeling as emotions of bliss and peace filled her chest. She'd get to touch the face of the most attractive being she'd ever laid eyes on, surely that was a positive. Yes, so no more delays, she should do it on the count of three. One, two, three.

Hermione quickly inhaled and exhaled. Then she held her breath, as she moved her left hand slightly further and gently touched Tom's face. He shuddered a little in response with his eyes still downcast, and she suppressed a gasp as she couldn't help feel surprised, excited, nervous and also, slightly fearful. It was emotional overload feeling all of that at the same time, and her heart felt like it'd burst from processing it all. Voldemort was a cold hearted monster and to find that he didn't feel icy or lifeless, always kind of astonished her mind.

He felt human but he had the beauty of an alluring immortal. In her entire life, she hadn't come across another with such an appearance and the way she was touching him now, she'd never thought or considered the possibility of it actually happening. It was both thrilling and scary.

Tom continued to avoid directly looking at her, and his face appeared to alternate between expressions that reflected fear, uncertainty and an un-readable expression, that seemed to seize his ability to blink every time it appeared. Suddenly, a glimmer on his right cheek bone reminded her that she was meant to remove its source. A second later, she followed her fingers with her eyes as she targeted the grains of silver snow, and every time she managed to make them move, a sensation that was like a magnetic force always accompanied her fingertips. Like there was some sort of energy between her and Tom, that seemed to come together whenever she moved her skin against his.

As Hermione continued to pursue the luminous particles, her awareness of her right hand heightened and the strange feeling saturating it, seemed to have seeped into her bones and built up to something, that was similar to static electricity. Without warning, the Slytherin slightly trembled as he momentarily shut his eyes and she rapidly blinked, startled. Causing her vision to shift from just her fingers, and as she paid attention to his whole face once more, Hermione couldn't stop herself from being mesmerised by his attractiveness again. Before, she'd ignored a question at the back of her mind that'd asked, if all of this was a hallucination due to intoxication. Now more than ever, she was sure it was all real.

Her senses and every fibre of her being supported this reality, that was making her hyperaware of her very existence. It brought an excitement that was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before, for some strange reason her face felt hot, and almost made her feel as if she'd melt like wax. While unknown to her, her cheeks had coloured a shade of dark pink.

Hermione stilled her moving hand for a few seconds, almost feeling dizzy and after taking a deep breath through her nose, she resumed her hunt for the shiny particles. As she softly dragged her fingers further up his cheekbone, she suddenly realised he didn't possess a truly flawless visage like she'd always thought. Almost hidden from sight and close to the top of his right ear, Tom had a small beauty spot. A tiny imperfection on a clear facial canvas but instead of making him appear flawed, it added to his physical charm and uniqueness. His appearance continued to radiate the magnificence and attraction of an immortal, despite the visible mark of a mortal and that was true outward perfection.

As the luminous grains rolled closer to his eye, Hermione's gaze followed and soon it came to her attention, that he was no longer staring at the floor. He'd raised his head a little higher, his eyes were looking towards his left side, and his pupils appeared to have dilated. Without warning, his recently acquired emotionless façade collapsed, and his new expressions made him appear a little lost and almost vulnerable. In response, feelings that she'd never experienced before seemed to pour out of her heart and surround her. Initially they were too alien for her to understand and as Hermione continued to stare at him, while the blush from her cheeks spread to her ears. She suddenly realised it was power that she was feeling, this was a completely different type of power than the one she was used to, and it felt forbidden and addictive at the same time.

The ability to make someone like him, who considered himself superior to others, submit to her with his own consent, and then to see him feel uncomfortable and exposed because of it, made her feel strangely powerful and for some insane reason, she couldn't help finding it pleasurable too. Her human form felt like it'd become a conduit for these potent emotions, and no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn't manipulate or tame them. She had no control over her feelings, the only thing she could do was surrender and feel.

Tom suddenly grasped the wrist of her moving hand, and Hermione's fingers froze on his face as she gasped loudly with un-blinking eyelids. A flood of thoughts and feelings crashed onto her mind, there were so many that she could barely process them all, and it made her feel like she was on the verge of insanity. While she could almost hear the sound of her racing heart, and every passing second made her more aware of the gentle, but firm pressure he was exerting on her wrist. Hermione had been so caught up in her reaction, that she hadn't registered his and when she finally did, her breath caught in her throat.

Fear, disbelief and curiosity had taken over his face. She'd never seen a combination of those expressions on him before, and together with his powerful silhouette and aura, he appeared strong but also fragile. All of a sudden, he directly met her gaze and as un-decipherable emotions filled his eyes, the intensity of them made her fingers tremble against his cheekbone.

Seconds later, Tom rapidly blinked before lowering his eyes and her vision moved to focus on the long foreign fingers circling her wrist. They were shivering a little and she could feel the slight movements on her skin. The sensation and the sight of them joined should've sickened her, but the many feeling running through her body didn't even come close to disgust.

Without warning, he slid his fingers up and grasped her hand, leaving the top half of her four fingers free. As Hermione suppressed an involuntary gasp, she realised his hand was much larger than hers and unlike her smooth exterior, he had many defined veins showing on the surface of his. A second later, thoughts that she didn't want to think burst into her mind. They were all telling her it was a show of strength, a strong and manly hand that was also warm and holding onto her. Suddenly, she found it hard to breathe as she looked at his face again. His eyes were still focused on the ground, but there seemed to be a shy and fearful expression on his face. Soon, there was surge in her feeling forbidden pleasure and power. As it became too much to bear, Hermione wanted to free her hand, but all she managed was to curl the tips of her fingers. Resulting in them making temporary depressions on the flesh of his face, while the natural blush on her cheeks deepened as she also directed her gaze towards the floor.

"When you're touching it, the silver snow," Tom suddenly started in an uncomfortable and nervous voice while Hermione blinked, startled. "You have to sweep away, like this," he added, dragging her captured hand down the contour of his well defined cheekbone, and her heart lurched in response to the un-expected movement. While a side that she didn't know she had, enjoyed every second of being touched and controlled by his masculine hand. "To allow the grains to fall away," he continued in a somewhat annoyed tone, removing her hand from his face and as she picked up on the slight dislike, she couldn't help feel a little irritated. It'd been his will to make contact and yet he was responding to her, like she was some unknown rarity that'd caught him off guard. "Otherwise, it results in-erm-" Tom trailed off in a low voice as a shy and uneasy expression showed on his face, while he gently lowered her hand before releasing it.

Hermione's eyes widened as her first instinct was to protest against the separation, seconds later she brought her hands together before interlocking them, but instead of making her feel complete, it made her loneliness more pronounced. As her recent memories replayed in her mind, Hermione didn't dare raise her eyes from the ground. Suddenly, the head girl realised something mortifying and she pressed her interlocked hands together so hard, that her nails dented her knuckles. What if-? No, she'd really done that. Powerful and always confidant Tom Riddle, had trailed off instead of completing the sentence, together with his actions, everything he'd said and all she could recall, there could only be one conclusion. Bloody Merlin, fuck. Trying to remove silver snow in a drugged up state, she'd continuously moved her fingers up and down, and her confusion had resulted in her mistakenly caressing his face. Oh God, no wonder he'd reacted like that.

Hermione sat still for a few seconds as feelings of shame and disgust encased her. How could she have-not her, it was the drugs. Liar, a voice seemed to shout in her mind, as her eyes watered. Silver snow had indeed influenced her behaviour and made her act wild, but it wasn't to blame for everything. Her thoughts and feelings had been real and her own. She'd enjoyed every second of being connected to him and even now, her body was craving for more. A salty teardrop sat on her right eyelash for a few seconds, and then it dropped onto her cheek as she sniffed while her hands slightly shook.

No, no. Being intoxicated must've done something to her hormones, they were to blame for all her improper thoughts. She wasn't a saintly nun, she was young with feelings and urges. See, it was all biology and chemicals in the brain. This wasn't the first time she'd been attracted to a handsome male, her history was filled with being attracted to many men, but she wasn't the type of red woman Mrs Weasley had once accused her of being. Yes, she was attracted to Tom Riddle's appearance and that's all it was.

Not exactly true, a voice said at the back of her head as more tears filled her eyes. She'd touched hands and faces of males before, even kissed some on the lips and it'd made her feel excitement and sweetness. But all those experiences paled in comparison to what she'd felt now, she'd never felt anything like it. The contact itself was innocent, but its effect had brought out sinful yearnings inside her. Somehow, it'd even touched her soul. After losing her loved ones, she'd been dead on the inside, going through the motions of a living being while revenge fuelled her existence. But during her contact with him now, she'd felt alive and not merely existing. Hermione unlocked her hands with watery, unblinking eyes and then she pressed her nails into the mat she was sitting on.

Fuck, what the hell was she-? That's crazy, she was going insane. It had to be the drugs and whatever the hell he'd put in that potion, since when could the dark lord be trusted? Surely, he'd planned this elaborate emotional torture for his own sick amusement. Unable to hold back any longer, Hermione started to cry and teardrops fell like rain onto the white ground. But unlike snow, the salty water remained on the surface of the mat resting on the floor.

"Granger," she suddenly became aware of someone saying her name. "Granger," Oh, God, it was the dark lord. "Answer me," he sounded on edge. Merlin, how long had he been calling her? She didn't know, she been to too lost in her mind and now, she couldn't stop crying.

After a few seconds, Hermione gathered enough willpower to raise her left hand and indicate that she'd heard him, but she couldn't find the courage to look up or halt her tears.

Suddenly, she felt at peace and then she felt confused. Why was her face wet? Not important, she should dry herself with that floating handkerchief, where had it-that didn't matter.

After she'd dried her face with the handkerchief, Hermione had the urge to look up and turn her head left. Who was that handsome young man standing in front of her? If she was with him shouldn't she know-not important, she was safe with him. Something was wrong with him, he looked stressed. Did she know him? Why was she here with-it's okay, she could trust him.

"It wasn't my intention to be so harsh," he suddenly said with a regretful expression. "I've never allowed anyone to-" the beautiful boy added in a low voice, before turning his back towards her. What did he mean? Who was he and why was she here? That didn't matter, she had to stay quiet and listen to him. "I was expecting a simple touch, not-" he paused and took a step forward, and then backwards again. "-not what followed," the handsome male continued in a controlled voice. "I know you're not at fault, it's the silver snow." What was he talking about, who was he? That didn't matter, it was important for her to listen to him. "The negative aspects of my reaction were unjustified," he voiced, turning to face her again with his eyes towards the ground. "I'm sorry," he added, looking up and as they stared at each other, she almost felt something but it was gone, like a dream that'd been emotional but you couldn't recall it, no matter how much you tried. "I know I'm not making any sense now," he said, shaking his head and she wanted to nod her head in agreement.

But that wasn't necessary, why wasn't it-it wasn't important. "You'll understand soon," he added, pointing a stick at her and a confused look appeared on her face. What was he trying to-it's okay, she could trust him. He was so tall and handsome. She couldn't help smile at him, he briefly smiled in response, but the tense look in his eyes seemed to remain. Suddenly, he flicked his stick towards her and her smiling expression immediately disappeared. Seconds later, her eyes widened and the handkerchief fell from her hand. As it settled on the floor, a gasp escaped her lips as Hermione remembered everything and blink of an eye later, she slid back a few centimetres with a betrayed look. "Forgive me," Tom said in a soft voice as he lowered his wand.

Hermione put her hands in her hair and bent her head down, until her chin touched her chest and then she bit the inside of her cheeks, as she continued to resist the urge to cry. "Granger," he called and she moved her head side to side, indicating that she wanted to be left alone. Merlin, What kind of nightmare was she stuck in? The dark lord was calling her friend, and using the imperious curse in an attempt to comfort her. "Granger, are you feeling unwell?" ignoring him, Hermione dropped her hands to her side and scrunched her eyes shut tight. Those thoughts, how could she have-? She was on powerful drugs, and they had obviously made her feel things that were crazy and unreal. Was it all a lie, what if-? Arrgh, the skull cracking head ache was making a comeback. She inhaled sharply before briefly touching her temples, and then her eyes snapped open as she heard movement really close to her.

Hermione's heart lurched and her breath caught in her throat, when her vision found the Slytherin on his knees with only a few centimetres distance between them. What in God's name was he-? He must be toying with her, elaborate emotional torture or-? Fuck, it didn't matter. Real or not, he'd be dead soon anyway. "Calm yourself, you'll feel better soon." Tom said softly with a concerned expression, and she couldn't help it as her eyes watered. He was being gentle and nice but she was registering the opposite, as a terrified feeling continued to grow in her heart.

Suddenly, there was a loud sound of something heavy crashing. Hermione screamed in fright and shrank away from Tom, as the tears pooled in her eyes leaked out. While the Slytherin spun around on his knees, and pointed his wand in the direction of the sinister audio. The witch rapidly blinked to clear her vision and it took her a few seconds to realise, that the dark lord wasn't responsible. Without warning, a house elf materialised and Hermione's eyes widened.

"Sorry," it said, performing a bow as the dark lord sprang to his feet. "I is feeling a little unwell and I'm having trouble with-" the elf trailed off with a shocked expression, as it finally noticed its surroundings and Hermione. The creature made a loud squeak like a frightened mouse and stumbled back a few steps. "Improperly dressed with a crying maiden, most evil." The elf mumbled to itself as it clawed at its own hands.

"No, it's not-" Hermione started in a high pitched voice, feeling shame even though she knew she hadn't done anything wrong. Tom hissed in Parseltongue as he lunged towards the elf, and she froze mid sentence with a racing heart. Seconds later, the creature made choking sounds as young Voldemort started to strangle it's tiny neck with his just his left hand, while his wand holding right hand shook. Hermione stared, too scared to move until she realised the creature had gone silent, but it was still frantically kicking its legs.

"Riddle," the head girl said with a frightened expression and he appeared not to have heard her, as he continued to strangle the elf while speaking more Parseltongue. Oh God, it could really die. "Riddle," she repeated in a louder voice, as she staggered to her feet but there was still no change. "It's a misunderstanding, stop." She added as she unsteadily walked forward, and when her words still fell on deafened ears, a feeling of desperation gripped her. "Stop," Hermione shouted, gripping the free end of his held wand and he let out a scream, as he pulled it out of her grasp with force while releasing the elf.

With an expression of a mad man, he raised his magical stick towards her, as if to physically strike her and she yelped with a look of absolute terror, while holding up her hands. Suddenly, a sensation of dejavu hit her, causing a depressing feeling to envelope her and in seconds, she found it hard to breathe, like the elf that was wheezing as it tried to inhale again. Without warning, a searing pain shot through her skull and as she grasped her head, Hermione realised the dark lord seemed frozen with a horrified look on his face. What the hell was happening, why did it all feel so-? Arrgh, this was too much. She almost collapsed, when Tom broke out of his statue like state, and held her up with wave of his wand.

"Forgive me," he said in an almost trembling voice, as regret showed on his face and as her mind felt like it was on fire, she did her best to concentrate on his words. Surely, he was apologising for trapping her here with drugs and making her witness elf abuse. But why did it feel like there was something deeper? What the-argh-too much pain. All of a sudden, it all went blank. Like someone had instantly quieted a noisy room, and then there was a deep feeling of peace. Which slowly started to change to sensations of joy and bliss. As a burst of coloured luminous spirals suddenly appeared in her vision, she had the urge to laugh and soon, Hermione couldn't stop herself from laughing loudly with her hands shaking by her sides in merriment.

The elf looked back and forth between her and the Slytherin with wide eyes, that reflected worry and fear. While in contrast, the dark lord appeared relieved. Suddenly, Hermione's world blackened and then a sensation of falling gripped her entire body, she mentally prepared herself for a painful landing but it never arrived. In the end there was absolute stillness and peace. After what felt like hours, blinding light suddenly filled her vision and after blinking several times, the world she'd escaped came into view.

As she stared at the ceiling, Hermione realised she was lying on a large cushion. Seconds later, she slowly sat up before proceeding to touch her head, as an awful headache began spread through her skull. Suddenly, she realised her gloves were on her hands again. Also, the loose strands of her hair now seemed to be securely pinned. Did he-? She lowered her hands as she focused her vision forward and when they settled on Tom, she momentarily held her breath.

He was completely dressed again in his tail coat and cravat tie, even his hair was flawlessly neat once more. His handsome face was still stunning and nothing about his appearance indicated, that he'd just inhaled a cauldron full of hard drugs. As the Slytherin took a few steps forward, Hermione looked away feeling intimated and she couldn't help feel kind of shy, as the memory of touching his face came to her mind. It was nothing, she'd just followed his order and the rest was all due to drugs he'd made her take. He was evil and completely insane.

Something didn't feel right, something was missing, what was-? The elf, where in Merlin's name was it?

"The elf," Hermione said in a distressed tone, as she jumped to her feet. "Did you obliviate it before it dissapparted?" she added with a panicked expression, as she looked back and forth.

"Don't worry, Granger." The dark lord said in a gentle tone, as he gave her a reassuring glance. "The creature is under my command,"

"Your command," she said with a look of disbelief. "How in Merlin's name did that-?" Hermione started with a taken aback expression, before trailing off with a tired appearance. Of course it was under his control. When the initial shock wore off, it was no surprise that he'd managed the impossible.

Now that she thought of it, it was the same elf that'd brought him ink and he'd asked her not to say anything about the creature. Her dress getting ruined, was that a part of the secret terrible thing he'd done to her? Hermione thinned her lips as her pulse quickened, what nonsense was she thinking? If he wanted to spill ink on her dress, he didn't need an elf to do it and it definitely wasn't an evil act, that'd require him to obliviate her.

"The clown's act is over, the music is about to end." Tom said, making the cushion on the floor disappear. For a moment, Hermione looked confused before realising he meant Beery's play was finished, and the Christmas ball was obviously still continuing. How did he-? His elf, he must've ordered it to inform him of situations that'd require his presence.

"The elf, it notified you." she said, as the dark lord made the place look as it was before they'd arrived.

"Yes," he replied, walking towards the entrance. "We must hurry back," Tom added, making the door open with a wave of his wand. "After you," he said, taking a few steps back and her pulse quickened, as she tried not to look as afraid as she felt.

Oh God in heaven, holy mother Mary. No doubt Voldemort was going to obliviate her, the second she stepped in front of him. "I insist," the dark lord continued in a louder voice and she couldn't help it, as her shoulders slightly jumped. "This will return to your hands soon," he continued in a gentler tone, as he brought out her wand, and the expression on his face seemed to be saying, 'please don't make this any harder than it has to be'.

Suddenly, a wave of calm washed over her. As the side effects of the drugs she'd taken started to make her feel insanely happy again, she couldn't help herself from smiling widely. The Slytherin returned a quick smile, but the tense expression on his face remained. Without warning, a blast of chilly air hit the side of her face and instead of finding it cold, she found the sensation absolutely delightful. As more wind blew through the door, she spun towards it like an excited child and when it made her dress fly above her ankles, she raised her hands up with a joyful squeal. Why had she been so scared to leave before? This was fun, there was nothing to be afraid off. Hermione skipped out of the door while laughing out loud, then she looked over her shoulder.

"Thank you for letting me leave first, it's so beautiful outside." she said with a huge smile.

"I'm glad it pleases you," Tom said before a returning a smile, and Hermione wondered why his eyes looked gloomy and almost guilty, even though he was smiling.

Perhaps he was tired, that made sense. After curtly bowing her head, she faced forward again and started to walk away. Suddenly, she felt something wasn't right, strange even. She should be worried but for some reason, she felt calm. It was like she was herself and wasn't at the same time, it didn't make sense. Whenever Hermione tried to solve the puzzle, she always came to the conclusion that there was no need.

At times it felt like a dream or a hallucination, where something else was possessing her, and there were moments when she felt like she watching a stranger live in her body. She should be alarmed but instead she was relieved, it was nice for someone else to drive, while she could relax in the backseat and look out of the window. Suddenly, something touched her hand. She should've jumped in fear but instead she felt curious. It was a beautiful stick, how was it floating and why-? She should take it but-she had to hold it, it belonged with her and holding it was important. Seconds later, it was firmly in her grasp and she continued forward with a relaxed expression.

After she made it indoors, things took an interesting turn. Amidst the backdrop of a grand festive party, with snow and decorated evergreen trees, chaos and violence was brewing. A young male adult with long black hair, and two female teenagers seemed to be at the centre of it. She wondered with mild curiosity why those girls were fighting with magic, while the adult near them tried in vain to stop it. Suddenly, what had started as a small conjured flame, magnified into a large blazing fire, due to an enlarged Ashwinder and soon, multiple screams filled the air.

Hermione no longer felt calm but against her will, her face decided to remain relaxed, while her mouth spoke instructions to the many present teenagers in a commanding tone, and the stick in her right hand was casting spells, to protect herself and others, and also to banish as much fire as she could. This went on for some time, until an invisible force pushed her backwards, almost knocking her off her feet. Only then did it come to her attention, that a small part on the bottom of her dress was burnt, but she was un-harmed.

Soon she realised that it wasn't due to luck, but because of the quick actions of a handsome young boy, dressed in luminous silver. He looked very stressed and kind of worried, and there was this strange feeling-did she know him? Maybe, where had she-it wasn't important. She was okay and he would keep her safe. He was about to say something to her, when a middle aged adult drew him away, and she couldn't help feel disappointed. But why did she-it wasn't important, she was safe. It wasn't long before the huge room was almost empty of teenagers, and in the end only 4 teenagers remained with her included. A group of adults talked with them wearing serious expressions, and even though she was tired and not really listening, a concerned and attentive expression was plastered on her face.

After a few minutes, her and all her fellow students were dismissed, while all the remaining adults began to work on repairing and clearing the large room, that she soon exited.

Where was she-not important, she had to follow them, but why did she-she would be safe with him. After passing through some corridors and walking up and down a few staircases, then an entrance guarded by a painting, she found herself inside a nice big room. It looked cosy, with a fireplace and armchairs. After more talking and pleasantries with a calm and cheerful expression, which her face had put on with a mind of its own, a boy and a girl that'd appeared friendly, disappeared into individual rooms upstairs, leaving her alone with a young male clad in silver.

As she stared at him, she couldn't help smile. He was so handsome, she was so fortunate to have him as her-who was he to her, why didn't she know-who was he? For a moment, a distressed expression appeared on her face and then the smile returned. After a few seconds, she pulled out her stick and handed it to the attractive boy. Was that right, why did she-? Everything was okay, she could trust him.

Suddenly, she had the urge to sit down and after she'd settled on an armchair, she held out her hands. Why was she-its fine, everything was okay. Without warning, the dark haired boy placed something in her hands. She almost jumped in fright before instantly calming down, nothing to fear, it was just a sandwich. Why was she holding a-it was for her, she should eat it. But why-she was hungry, she should have it now.

After she bit into the soft bread, she found she was very hungry indeed. It took her less than a minute to finish it, and at the end she wondered what the filling had been. She'd been too distracted to pay attention to the full flavour, there had been something meaty and crunchy, but the only after taste she could detect now, was cheese.

Suddenly, she realised she was thirsty. Seconds later, a goblet of water was placed in her hands, like someone had read her mind and she quickly gulped it all down. Without warning, the water holder vanished and she screamed in fright. But it wasn't because of the disappearing act, but due to something she'd recalled. As she remembered who she was and all that'd happened, Hermione jumped to her feet and reached for her wand.

"It's gone," she said in a trembling voice, as she pulled out nothing but air.

"It's in my care," Tom said calmly, as he turned towards the fire place while lowering his wand, and a fearful expression flashed on her face. But seconds later, Hermione felt an overwhelming force of peace and joy. It was the drugs, they were still active. Merlin, when would they- actually, in this situation it was a good thing. It was really helping her cope, even though she was completely under his control, at least she wasn't continuously screaming or running around the room.

Not that any of those things would've achieved anything, he'd obviously sound proofed the room, and all the adults were busy with the aftermath of the fire. Did he-, no. She was there, the fire wasn't him. "Don't worry, your wand will be returned to you soon." he voiced, glancing in her direction and she took in a deep breath. Damn it, why was he so handsome, even when he looked tired and a little messy? Merlin, how could she-aargh. "Sit," he ordered, as he made the fireplace come alive with roaring fire. "Sit down," he snapped, pointing his wand when she failed to immediately obey.

"I'm sorry," she whispered with wide eyes as she quickly sat down.

"Forgive me," Tom said lowering his wand. "I should not have been so harsh," he said, putting away his magical stick.

"It's fine," Hermione said in a low voice, thank God that wand was out of his hands. But for how long, a mental voice questioned at the back of her head, and the head girl thinned her lips as she took in a sharp intake of breath.

After a few seconds, her stressful expression became replaced by a happy look. Yes, she had problems but she felt really really great. Besides, wasn't life meant to be hard or something, otherwise it would mean she hadn't lived or experienced life, didn't those dumb, dreamy philosophical books state that? Bunch of liars, the lot of them. But those monks that believed in enlightenment through substance use, now they were really onto something.

Suddenly, Hermione's lively eyes locked onto the bright flames in the room, and then eventually they moved on to the dark lord. The fire wasn't burning normally tonight, there were many shapes, swirling patterns and colours in them. Tom had been staring into the fireplace for a while now, was he also seeing things other than just fire? The Slytherin suddenly turned towards her, like he'd heard her mental question and she blinked, startled but at the moment, she was filled with too much joy to cower in fear.

Sweet Merlin, why did he look so desirable, seductive and delicious? Did she really just-? Erm, no, no. It wasn't like that, they were not-they were just friends. What? Not her, the young dark lord thought they were, and he'd been so nice to her recently. True, for Tom Riddle, he'd been very nice and he'd even let her touch his-. Oh, God. Why the hell had she thought of that, when he was looking right at her? Christ, she was blushing, wasn't she? Because her face felt really hot and her heart was racing fast, even though his expression wasn't threatening in the slightest. "I know you're very tired," he said taking a step closer to her, and she couldn't help feel relieved, better that conclusion than the truth. "I didn't intend to keep you waiting," he continued, as he moved more closer to her. What in Merlin's name did he mean by that? "I just required a moment to collect myself," Tom added, as he walked behind her, and the second she registered he was out of sight, she knew he'd have magical trapped her by now.

Soon, Hermione unfortunately found she was right, when she realised she could no longer move, and it was like she'd been glued to her seat. Still, she had to at least try and free herself. "Stop struggling," Tom's voice ordered in an annoyed tone.

"How can I not when you're about to fry my brains?" she said sounding fearful as she continued her attempt to be free.

"I'm not going to-" he started in a raised voice. "I won't harm you, it will be flawless this time." he finished in a gentle tone.

"I trust your words," Hermione said slowly. Strangely, she believed him but didn't think he could achieve it. "But you're running on a mountain of silver snow, you'll turn my brain matter into marshmallow." she added in a rushed voice, as she resumed her will to escape with renewed vigour. Seconds later, she heard him laugh out loud and it made her freeze, while her heart lurched. Good God, clearly he was fucking high or gone super insane, so what she'd said was-.

"Incorrect," Tom said, interrupting her thought, like he'd read her mind and she picked up on a sad tone. What the-was he serious?

"I inhaled one line and it's still affecting me," Hermione said, emphasising one. "After multiple lines of silver snow, how can you say that you're-," she started in a disbelieving tone.

"It's all now ineffective, like I'd never taken any." he said in a low voice, that sounded kind of sorrowful and haunted. Was he genuinely sad or acting? Did he mean he'd become sort of resistant to it?

"Because you always take large amounts, or you've been taking it for a long time?" she wondered out loud.

"Both," the Slytherin almost whispered and she inhaled sharply. Did she hear that right? "Years of inhaling mountains of silver snow will do that," he said with laughter in his voice, and his laugh seemed to have a sad undertone. Hermione eyes widened as she replayed his words in her mind, something was really really wrong with him. Holy mother Mary, what in God's name was so bad that it was making him-.

Suddenly, her mind froze and then a huge smile plastered on her face, as overwhelming feelings of happiness and peace, filled her heart. What had they been talking about? Mountains of silver snow, yes, how wonderful. Who cares if she was trapped as long as she could have more?

"A mountain of silver snow, sounds heavenly." she said with laughter in her voice.

"You're already half there," Tom said in a voice that sounded bittersweet.

"Half," Hermione said before laughing out loud. "Even with silver snow, what is it with us and half this and half that?" she added before laughing again, and this time the dark lord briefly joined her.

"Riddle, let's try a full circle." Hermione said in a sudden eager tone. "Please can I have some more," she begged. "A little more, please can I-" she began to add in a louder voice.

"I will consider your request," Tom said, interrupting her. "But first, I need you to be still, silent and calm." he continued in an impatient tone.

"Then you'll allow me to have some more," she said, like a child hoping to receive candy soon.

"Of course," Tom said, walking more closer to her. "As agreed, I need you to be quiet and still." the dark lord said, gently placing his wand on her left shoulder from behind her, and Hermione couldn't help feel uneasy.

"Will it hurt?" she asked in a wavering voice.

"Absolutely not, I won't harm you." Tom said sounding confident.

"Because we're friends, right?" she said cheerfully, as a wave of bliss washed through her whole body.

"I-yes, I do think there is friendship between us." his voice sounded saturated with emotion, but she couldn't pin point which one. Must be something positive, because he was being nice and she was feeling happy.

"Hearing you say that makes me feel more at ease," the head girl said with laughter in her voice. "Really looking forward to more silver snow, I'm ready to obey." she added in a higher pitched voice, as a huge smile plastered on her face.

"Now, don't be alarmed." Tom said, moving his wand up to her head. "Calm yourself," he added, emphasising calm. "You may focus your eyes towards the fire place," she immediately followed his suggestion, and found the fiery distraction full of hallucinations, soothing.

"From now on, remain absolutely still and don't speak a word." Tom commanded, as he gently pressed his wand against her left temple. Frozen and mute, Hermione stared un-blinking with a joyful expression, as she imagined herself inhaling another line of silver snow.

Suddenly, Hermione's world blackened. Then she rapidly blinked as she became aware of herself, a lot of things didn't make sense, but she felt an overwhelming urge to obey the mental commands in her head. There was someone with her, it didn't matter who he was, but it was important to take the stick he was offering her. Afterwards, she climbed up a staircase before pausing in front of a door. Where was she, why was she-? She was safe, everything was okay. Without warning, her mind froze, and then she lost awareness of everything once again.

Hermione rapidly blinked as blinding light made her eyes water, and then the sound of something falling made her jump. As she suddenly noticed Tom Riddle watching her, she almost screamed and a frightened expression plastered on her face. She was already outside her room but how-must be short term fuzzy memory due to tiredness and fear. Was Tom trying to hurt her, had she done something wrong? But everything had been good between them during the Christmas ball.

"You fell asleep again for a few seconds," the dark lord said, taking a step towards her and her eyes widened in mistrust. "You dropped your wand," he added, looking towards the floor.

Hermione looked down to find he was telling the truth, that was what had made the sound, she was scaring herself silly for no reason. He was being friendly, and he'd actually been nice to her during the entire ball, and even stopped her from getting burnt.

"Oh, thank you" she said, quickly picking up her wand. Then she held onto it with a tight grip for a few seconds, before putting it away. It was okay, if he wanted to harm her, he would've already done it when she was wand less.

"Are you feeling better now?" he asked with a concerned expression, as he took another step towards her.

"Huh," she said with a confused look before regretting it. Damn it, she was looking dumb, wasn't she?

"Earlier, you mentioned you had a really bad headache," Tom added, gesturing towards her skull.

"Oh, that." Hermione said, gingerly touching her hair. Yes, she could now recall a bad headache while she'd been in the great hall. "It's gone, I'm feeling much better now." she added, lowering her hand.

"I'm glad to hear that," he said with a smile and she momentarily held her breath, as a strong feeling in her chest made her pulse quicken. What was that, what the hell was wrong with her?

"Thank you for asking," Hermione said in a rushed voice, as she began to fidget with her lace gloves. She was tired and sleepy and he was very attractive-. Arrgh, no.

"I believe such expression of gratitude is not necessary between us anymore," Tom said, shaking his head. Damn her hormones, he was looking more adorable by the second. And could he stop talking in that Victorian long way of saying things, he was beginning to morph into a hero from those Jane Austen novels. "After our many months of acquaintance," he added, emphasising months, and she stilled her fidgeting hands for a moment. "I consider us somewhat friends," Tom continued in a controlled voice while breaking eye contact, and Hermione took a deep breath as her heart rate increased. Merlin, this was bad. No, it was good. It meant she had his trust, or whatever closest to it, and it didn't hurt that he looked drop dead gorgeous, like some real life Mr Darcy. Yikes, exhaustion was making her go insane in lust.

"Erm-likewise," she said in a low voice, as her fidgeting fingers increased their activity so much, that her thin gloves had half come off. No choice, she couldn't refuse without making herself a complete enemy in his eyes.

"I am very pleased that you're in agreement." Tom said in a pleasant tone that sounded almost happy, as he made eye contact again, and she was about to give him a fake smile, when a shocked expression took hold of her face. The young dark lord looked confused and then hurt, but he hadn't yet noticed the red wetness that she could see.

Suddenly, crimson droplets began to rapidly fall to the floor. She barely had time to think, her first instinct was to somehow stop it. Her hands pulled off her gloves, like they had a mind of their own and without further thought, she used it to block the red ruby coloured rain.

As she stared at his shocked and frightened eyes, did she realise the full extent of what she had done. Merlin, oh God. He'd had a sudden nose bleed and she'd stopped it without his permission. But she wasn't touching his skin, luckily her brain had remembered that was a big no, if he hadn't consented.

Too scared to move Hermione continued to hold her hands in place, but she couldn't help it, as they shook a little. The dark lord also seemed to have become frozen too, the only movement she could feel from him, was his fast breathing through the thin lace in her hands, that was almost entirely covered in dark blood now.

What had she gotten herself into? Why had she-arrgh, what was that strange feeling that was trying to make her go insane. She was not feeling sympathy or care for him, surely it was all lust due to teenage hormones and sleep deprivation. Yes, that made sense. Also, if she was meant to be a friend, then she couldn't ignore him while he bled all over the floor. True, but she should've offered a handkerchief, instead of personally-. Well, it was too late now.

Merlin's beard, Chirst. How had she not realised until now, that his wand was poking into her neck? Hermione tried not to panic as her heart rate doubled, but she couldn't stop her hands from badly shaking. Oh God, she was causing blood splatters on his chin and clothes. He hadn't crucioed her yet so that was a good sign, and he seemed to have calmed down. As he looked a bit more relaxed, and he wasn't breathing fast anymore.

"I'm sorry," Hermione whispered after mustering the courage to speak, and Tom closed his eyes while creasing his forehead. Bloody Merlin, had she made everything worse? When he took his wand off her neck, she released a breath she hadn't realised she was holding, but before she could feel more at ease, he opened his eyes. There was an intense look in them that almost made her shiver, it looked like saturated emotion but she couldn't label what kind. Seconds later, Hermione realised her flimsy gloves had leaked red wetness on her fingers. She did want his blood on her hands but not like this.

Suddenly, he took a step backwards and she let go of the soaked fabric, startled. But before the gloves could fall to the floor, Tom magically captured them, while placing his left hand under his nose, and not sure how to respond, she stood still with a cautious expression. He turned his back to her, and while he made several movements with his wand held hand, she considered sneaking away to her room. Nope, that would not be a good move. She had to gather her courage and stay.

After a while, Tom faced her again and not a drop of blood could be seen on him. "Please excuse my overreaction," he said, lowering his wand and Hermione tried her best, to keep a calm expression on her face. "Your response initially startled me," he added, taking a step closer to her.

"Sorry, I should've informed you-" she started in a rushed voice. "-instead of- err-" she trailed off, with a look that reflected a mixture of fear and embarrassment. "It's not proper, especially without permission." Hermione continued with a slightly guilty expression, and then she stared ahead with a scared and unsure look. Why wasn't he saying anything? He wasn't blinking, and he seemed to have become frozen. Except his wand hand, it appeared a little shaky.

"Most would agree it's not improper in a situation like this," the dark lord suddenly said, looking at the ground, and Hermione tried to decipher what was going on inside his mind. "Your actions would indeed be extreme if we were not well acquainted," he added, and her pulse quickened a little. But she didn't understand why, since he hadn't said anything threatening. They were supposed to be sort of friends so she had pretended to care, nothing wrong there.

"Others care little for my preference," Tom started in a sudden low voice, that seemed to be laced with emotion and it also sounded like, he was having a hard time vocalising the words. "People usually push the boundaries as much as they can," he added in a louder voice that echoed a tone of anger and disgust, and the sudden coldness and hate, made her almost jump.

"That's not right," Hermione said, shaking her head after calming down. "No matter what one looks like or who they are, it will never be right." she added, hotly as all the things he'd said replayed in her mind.

It suddenly came to her attention, that Tom had lowered his head so much that his chin was touching his chest, and his shoulders seemed to be slightly shivering. Merlin, had she upset him? How? She'd been nothing but supportive and nice, so why?

"You're the first person to ever truly care about my preference," he suddenly said in a soft voice while raising his head, and the extreme emotional look in his eyes almost gave her a heart attack.

"Erm-really? I-err-that's very nice of you but that can't possibly be true. I'm sure there's someone that-"

"No, you're the first." he interrupted in a loud voice, as he shook his head side to side.

"Ah," she uttered unintelligently. Was he telling the truth, true or not, why would he tell her? Must be a manipulation tactic to deepen their fake friendship, made more sense than the dark lord valuing her enough, to confide crucial truths of his life to her. How the fuck was she meant to respond to something like that though? "I always try to do what's right, especially when it concerns propriety and honour." that's a neutral safe response and not exactly a lie.

Was it too detached and distant? Maybe, or he'd just felt like putting on an expressionless face now? Arrgh, she had to think of something else. "You have always treated me the same too," Hermione added with a small smile. "When I was completely powerless, I've always felt safe with you as a girl." she continued in a factual tone but her expression was no longer happy, and for a moment, the dark lord appeared slightly guilty. "Actually, that's a first for me too." Hermione said with a huge smile, looking cheerful again. "All the other times with those evil-" she trailed off with a haunted look, as her body refused to speak further while her eyes filled with tears.

Tom seemed to move with lightening speed, and blink of an eye later, a handkerchief was being pressed under her eye. Hermione rapidly blinked but to her surprise, she hadn't jumped or shrank back and strangely, it was like her body trusted him even though her mind had doubts. What the-she was tired and traumatised from recalling a bad memory, it was nothing more. Suddenly, she stopped blinking as he continued to carefully wipe her face dry with his cloth encased fingers. That look on his face, was it really there? She'd seen anger on his face before but this seemed different, it was like he was angry on her behalf. And the look in his eyes was completely alien on him, she'd never seen it before. It appeared like protective and caring emotions, and was clearly directed at her. She took in a sharp intake of breath as her pulse quickened, and hoped to God that she wasn't blushing as her face was starting to feel hot.

Fuck, bloody Merlin. What the hell was he-? It was all fake, she'd pretended to be concerned about his nose bleed, and now he was acting like he cared about her crying. Holy mother Mary, his acting and expression truly deserved an order of Merlin. Arrgh, his expressions were so realistic. Too much, it was getting to her and she had to look away, even if it was for a moment. A few seconds after Hermione had stared at the floor, he removed his handkerchief from her face and took a step back.

"Granger, look at me." he said after a few seconds of silence and not feeling ready yet, she thinned her lips while fidgeting with her hands. "Look at me," he repeated in a commanding tone, and after momentarily holding her breath, she made herself look up. Tom appeared concerned and even a little worried, his acting was nothing new, but she still couldn't help feel slightly shocked. "You're safe now," he stated in a soft voice and even though she knew that, having it said out loud seemed to have a calming effect.

"I know," she said in a low voice, after mustering the courage to speak.

"Hold out your hands," Tom said, drawing his wand and her eyes widened in fear. "It won't hurt, it's just a spell to clean your hands." he added, lowering his magical stick.

"Oh," she said, while looking down at her fingers with dry blood stains. "I kind of forgot about that," she added, lifting up her head.

"May I," Tom asked, raising his wand again. She should say yes, nothing wrong there.

"You may," Hermione replied, holding out her hands.

Soon, a fist sized ball of water materialised, and a curious expression flashed on her face. The closer the aqueous body got to her, the larger it grew before completely engulfing both of her hands. Hermione raised an eyebrow as the skin of her palms felt slightly chilly and moist, like she'd plunged her hands into a large bowl of cool jelly. Seconds later, the watery sphere released her hands. While the liquid ball shrank and disappeared, the head girl rubbed her hands as she inspected her dry and clean palms and fingers.

"New spell?" she asked, making eye contact with Tom again.

"Yes," he answered, lowering his magical stick. "Better than materialising a bowl of water," he added, putting his wand away.

"Definitely faster than that time when you used a goblet of water," she said, lowering her hands. "Less troublesome too," Hermione added in a haunted tone, and all trace of emotion vanished from the dark lord's face. "All those multiple actions of repeatedly dipping your handkerchief in water-," she continued, un-blinking. "-and then manually cleaning the blood on my-" Hermione began to add with a distressed look.

"Granger," Tom interrupted. "Please could you do me the favour of dwelling in the present," he added in a pleading tone.

Woah, she'd been too emotional for some reason. Hhmm, it was starting to fade and a calmness seemed to be enveloping her. Is it because of what he'd just said, was he that good at manipulating emotions? "I will do my best to ensure that-" he started, looking away from her. "Our future interactions, I-" Tom began again and she suddenly felt like smiling, even though she knew it wasn't a good Idea. "I will endeavour to prevent history from repeating itself," he finally said. As his words repeated in her mind, she knew they were her undoing and she could no longer hold back.

Seconds later, she started to laugh out loud. She knew at the back of her head, she was acting like a crazy maniac but for some strange reason, in this moment she had no fear of the dark lord, even when he was standing right in front of her. And even stranger was his calm and collected demeanour, like he'd been expecting her unusual reaction.

"I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered, trying to catch her breath. "I don't know why-" she started in a wheezing voice before breaking out in laughter again. Suddenly, she froze with a huge smile and a stunned expression. There were these strange colourful geometric patterns in the air, that kept blinking in and out of existence. What on earth was-? Surely, it was the dark lord's doing.

"Riddle, what kind of spell is that?" she questioned, pointing towards the ceiling before laughing again. "Is that an attempt at some firework type Christmas confetti," she asked in a voice that sounded breathless.

"Granger, what you are experiencing now is harmless and temporary." he replied, and she started laughing again with a confused expression. "When you are more anchored to reality, I will further elaborate on the matter."

"Of course it's real, I can see it" Hermione said with laughter in her voice, as she waved her hands excitedly toward the bright colourful forms. After a while, her cheerful appearance became replaced by a sacred and disorientated one. What the hell had that been, what the fuck was happening to her?

"Granger, there's something I have to tell you." Tom suddenly said in a low voice and startled, her shoulders jumped as she'd forgotten his presence for a moment. God in heaven, whatever it was, it had to be his evil doing. "Please don't be alarmed," he added in a gentle voice and a concerned expression.

"Merlin, what did you do to me?" Hermione said in an accusing tone, as she took a few steps back, while clutching her wand with a fearful expression.

"Calm yourself," he said, raising his left hand as a hurtful look flashed on his face.

"You did something to my mind, caused damage." she added, drawing her wand. "And now I'm laughing like a maniac and hallucinating coloured sparkles." Hermione continued in an almost shouting voice, while pointing her magical stick at him.

"Incorrect," the dark lord said in an almost hissing voice, as he drew his wand but he did not point it at her. "If I wished to modify minds, I'm skilled enough to not cause damage." he added, looking and sounding offended. "I have no desire to harm you," the Slytherin said, emphasising harm. "Miss Granger, if you would permit me to explain." Tom requested but his tone and expression was commanding.

His sudden formal attitude, like she was some stranger he was meeting for the first time, seemed to be like someone had splashed some cold water on her face, and that was enough to snap her out of her biased thinking, and provide a voice of reason. Fuck, she had overreacted. She wasn't in danger as she had her wand, and she should bloody stop pointing it at lord Voldemort before he lost his temper.

"I am certain all your fears will be laid to rest," he added in less hostile tone, that was slightly pleading as he put his left hand down. Hermione immediately lowered her magical stick with a worried and scared expression. No crucio, and it was a miracle he hadn't even raised his wand when she'd pointed her's at him. What the-? Ah, the friend thing. Wasn't he playing the fake friendship role way too realistically? Well, he was Tom Riddle and he was perfection crazy, so it kind of made sense.

"I'm so sorry," Hermione said with guilty expression, as she moved her wand out of his sight, but she didn't feel comfortable enough to let go of it. A lot of things still weren't clear, but she should allow him explain first instead of jumping to conclusions.

"The fault is entirely mine, I should've informed you sooner." he said, putting his wand away. What he'd said was making her a little panicked, but his show of being weapon-less made her strangely feel safe at the same time.

"The alcohol free mulled wine and a few bottles of butter beer," Tom started, and she stared at him like he'd grown two heads. "Someone contaminated them with a type of happiness potion that causes mild hallucinations," he added and a feeling of relief spread through her, as everything finally made sense. "After being tested, apart from the obvious effects, it was determined to be harmless." he continued, emphasising harmless. "Dippet did not want to cause a wide spread panic with an announcement," Tom said, raising an eyebrow, and Hermione thinned her lips as she recalled her earlier reaction. "I was told to inform only those who have been affected," he continued, and a slightly embarrassed expression plastered on her face. "A few hours of sleep will cure it, everything should return to normal in the morning." he finished, tilting his head a little to the left.

"Oh, I see." she said in a rushed voice, while looking at the floor. Ah, she'd made herself appear stupid, hadn't she?

Then again, anyone in her situation would react the same. Even if she had overreacted, didn't he overreact too. Yes, different situations but the overall point she was trying to make was the same. "I overreacted," Hermione started in a factual tone. "A mostly natural reaction when suddenly faced with the unexpected," she added before instantly regretting it. Damn it, she shouldn't of said that.

"True," he said, moving his head back to the centre. Thank God, she hadn't angered him. "Please feel free to be at ease," Tom added with a smirk and wondering what he was getting at, she creased her forehead. "Can you really consider yourself among friends, if you have to provide justification for such a small matter?" he continued in a slightly taunting tone, and her expression darkened.

"I did not feel the need to conceal that I overreacted," Tom added, raising an eyebrow. Arrgh, he just had to win and be the one that was right. "Perhaps, the real blame lies in the situation we have found ourselves in." he continued, creasing his forehead. Ugh, fine. Whatever he said, she was going to agree in the end, it's not like she had a choice. "I propose we move forward without trying to ascertain the rights and the wrongs." The dark lord said, crossing his arms. Okay, but even if he was right it didn't make her wrong. Sshh, she should not vocalise that. "After all, you were not in your right mind." Tom added with a toothy smile, before laughing out loud.

"Riddle," She hissed with an angry expression, as she made her hands into fists. Slimy snake, he'd been messing with her the whole time and now he was laughing at her.

"Forgive me," he said breathlessly after a few seconds. "I did not plan to laugh at your expense, but I could not resist such a well presented opportunity."

"Very funny," she said dryly, also crossing her arms. "Now I suppose you will say, you also drank one of those contaminated drinks." she continued in a disbelieving tone.

"No," Tom said, looking away from her. "My actions were entirely influence free," lucky him, not like her terrible fate. "Unlike me, you will experience states of harmless bliss throughout the night," he added, sounding slightly jealous. Why did it seem like he'd wished he'd drank some? Couldn't be, the dark lord always liked to be in control.

Surely, she was misinterpreting due to sleep deprivation. Actually, it was a good thing she'd had something that would make her a little happy. She was in need of a little cheer and relaxation in her life.

"I'm sorry you can't share in the happiness," Hermione said, trying not to sound smug.

"I already have," the dark lord said with an arrogant expression, and she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Your joyful state enabled me to lose myself in laughter," Tom said in a sudden serious tone, and as she caught the emotional look in his eyes, she momentarily stopped breathing.

Oh God, what the hell was-why did it feel so hot all of a sudden ? Christ, she was blushing, wasn't she? Had to be tiredness and that damn happiness potion.

"Oh, err-" Arrgh, she was making a fool of herself. "Good to hear," she added in a rushed voice while looking at the floor and then a few seconds passed in silence, with her gaze towards the ground.

"Don't let it trouble you," Tom suddenly said and an alarmed expression plastered on her face, but she still didn't raise her head. What did he mean, did he know what she was-? "I can easily fix that." he added before gracefully lowering himself to his knees, and Hermione slid back a few centimetres with a shocked expression.

"What in Merlin's name are you-?" she started in a high pitched, shaky voice.

"The damage done to your dress," he said calmly, while pointing his wand towards the hem of her frock's skirt. As she followed his gaze with a racing heart, her eyes took in scorch marks and shrunken fabric near her ankles. Ah, she'd totally forgotten about the small part of her dress getting burnt.

"I can easily repair that," he said, as if on cue.

"Please, you don't have to-" she started in a rushed voice and ignoring her, the dark lord began to cast a spell. "-do that, erm-" she trailed off, sounding slightly breathless.

As Tom continued to move his wand with his head lowered, she couldn't help notice how close his skull was to her waist, and as it was also close to another part of her body, it was making her think of-. Arrgh, oh God. Holy mother Mary, yikes, she needed holy water to cleanse her mind. It had to be that dirty Susan's influence and the rogue happiness potion, ruining her mind with filth.

"It's no trouble at all," Tom said, like he'd heard her mental struggle, and she took in a deep breath as her pulse quickened. "My pleasure," he added, raising his head before smiling, and Hermione almost jumped back as intense feelings pooled in her chest. A second later, she walked back a few centimetres while holding her breath, and then she slowly turned around until she could no longer see him. Merlin's beard, he should be banned from saying the word pleasure. Because it-arrgh.

"Thank you, it's as good as new" Hermione said in a slightly unsteady voice, while rustling the skirt of her dress, as she put on a show of inspecting his repair work. But in reality, her eyes were un-focused and the dress was barely on her mind. It was just too bloody much for her to look at his smiling handsome face, as he knelt in front of her while being so close to her-arrgh. Had no one ever told him how-surely, he knew of the effect he had on girls? Maybe, maybe not, or he didn't exactly get it as he was most likely an asexual. What if he wasn't, Susan had said he may just need the right-Christ, no no.

"You're welcome," she heard him say, as she saw him walk to her left from the corner of her eyes. Thank God, he wasn't kneeling anymore but she still didn't feel ready to face him again. Merlin, was she blushing? Erm-her face did feel a little more hot than normal, maybe she was-arrgh.

"Is there a mistake?" Tom suddenly asked and she froze for a moment, before slowly raising her head. Crap, she'd been staring at the bottom of her dress for too long. She was being bloody weird, she needed to act normal.

"No," Hermione said after taking a deep breath. "Just feeling sleepy," she said hurriedly as she turned to face him once again.

"I have kept you from your well deserved slumber, I must apologise." Tom said, slightly bowing his head and her heart skipped a beat.

"There's no need, I have also taken up your time." Hermione said in a high pitched voice, while shaking her head side to side. Heavens, she needed to get far away from him. "Goodnight," she added mechanically while glancing at the floor, before wondering if that'd sounded too forced.

"Goodnight," he said, giving her a smile and she forced her lips to return a small smile, before turning on her heels. Without running, she walked towards her room as fast as she could.

"Granger," Tom called when she touched her door handle, and she momentarily closed her eyes as she almost felt like swearing out loud.

"Yes," Hermione said weakly, reluctantly looking in his direction.

"I almost forgot," he said, levitating her lace gloves towards her.

"Oh, those" she said, quickly plucking the lightweight clothing from the air. They were blood free and like her dress, as good as new. "Thank you," she added, turning her face away from him.

"You're welcome," she heard him say as she pressed down her door handle. But instead of opening the door, she froze as a thought suddenly occurred to her.

"Riddle," Hermione called, snapping her head towards him. "The nose bleed, are you okay?" she asked with a concerned expression, while releasing the door handle.

"Shouldn't you go and see-" she trailed off, what the fuck was she doing? Was she-no she was not worried about him, and she did not care. It's just part of the act, since they were meant to be fake friends.

"I-I'm well," Tom said, stuttering a little, and for a moment he looked touched that she'd asked. Acting, he was bloody acting. "I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. But if it happens again, I will consult Madam Whittaker." he added before giving her a small smile.

"I see," Hermione said uncomfortably, while fidgeting with the lace gloves, and then she forced herself to briefly smile in return.

"Goodnight," he said once again, slightly bowing his head.

"Goodnight," she said, returning the stiff nod. Then Hermione held her breath and spun towards her door, and she only started breathing again, after she'd made it inside her room and shut the entrance.

The witch spent a while inhaling and exhaling deeply, while leaning against her door. Then she really wanted to collapse onto her bed, but she desperately needed the bathroom.

After a couple of minutes, her dress was lying near the bath and she stepped back into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her. Afterwards, she put on her night clothes with her eyes closed, before crashing onto her bed. Seconds later, something soft dropped on her. Her eyes snapped open as she gasped in fright, while raising her arms and after rapidly blinking for a moment, she realised it was the dark lord's jumper and not some fucking Lethifold.

Merlin, thank God. Must've slipped from the headboard when she'd jumped onto the bed, next time she should hide it well instead of leaving it hanging. Hhmm, it did smell really nice though. Hermione buried her face into the cosy woolly material, and as she started to feel super happy, her lips stretched into a smile while she continued to inhale the wonderful perfume infusing the jumper. It was beautiful, just like its drop dead gorgeous, handsome master. As she continued to picture Tom Riddle's face, she puckered her lips before planting a few kisses on the soft clothing. Then she laughed out loud feeling a little naughty, before she got an idea that was even naughtier.

She slid her fingers down and brought them to a stop between her legs. Then she rubbed them up and down continuously against the cotton fabric of her knickers. While pleasurable tension spread through her body, she inhaled the perfume of his jumper deep into her lungs, as she continued to kiss the soft clothing. Hermione gasped before letting out a moan as a sweet feeling of relief enveloped her entire body, and then she lay still for a few seconds while feeling out of breath.

Eventually her breathing steadied, and as a beautiful calmness spread through her mind and body, Hermione pulled the jumper off her face before hugging it close to her chest. Then, still clutching Tom Riddle's clothing, she pulled the quilt over her head, before fearlessly watching the colourful geometric dancing patterns in the darkness. Soon, Hermione closed her eyes and fell asleep with a smile on her face.

Hello readers,

Is anyone still here?

Hope I have some readers left, yes I know it's been 4 and half years since my last update.

I'm so sorry for taking a very very long time to update.

I try to write as fast as I can but my life is so stressful and difficult.

It can be hard to focus when you're constantly drowning in sadness, and I promise I will try to finish my stories if I am alive.

Thank you very much to everyone that reviewed,

Please, please do review, even if it's really short or a one word review.

They really motivate me to update faster, and indicates to me that the readers actually want more.

Some music I listened to while writing this chapter (If anyone is interested) –

Instrumental music -

** Mari Samuelsen – Einaudi: Una Mattina (Arr. Badzura)


**Le Onde - Ludovico Einaudi (Violin Cover)


English –

** Three Days Grace - I Hate Everything About You


** Saliva - Always


Hindi –

** Tum Se Shikayat Hai Ye


** Devil-Yaar Naa Miley


** Aadat


Chinese –

** Hua Xu Yin: City of Desperate Love


** Hua Xu Yin: Endless wait


** A lifetime waiting for you


** Zhuque Street


Korean –

** Born again - A flower that didn't bloom


Merry Christmas everyone,

Bye, until next time.

(Sorry if the spacing, formatting and the font sizes aren't even, the website keeps changing it automatically and I have no idea why or how to fix it).