Breaking and Entering
By: Provocative Envy
Hermione Jean Granger is a good girl.
She attends church on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays with her mother; she organizes the countywide bake sales on the last Saturday of every month, always making sure to contribute at least ten of her award-winning Macintosh apple pies; and she is the undisputed captain of her high school cheerleading squad, affixing the cutout felt 'C' onto the sleeve of her prim navy sweater with a proud flourish of her sewing needle.
She wears pastel colored cardigans with knee-length houndstooth circle skirts, is careful to button her blouses all the way up to the crisp, rounded folds of their collars; she keeps her skin clear and clean, discreetly powders the bridge of her nose with an expert flick of her wrist, and does not deviate from the subtle, understated shade of coral pink lipstick that she's heard Audrey Hepburn favors. Her hair is shiny and thick, gleaming bouncing barrel curls deftly pinned behind her ears, and her eyebrows are plucked into a delicate sort of submission, winged arches perfectly symmetrical.
Hermione Jean Granger is a good girl—
Until Tom Riddle comes to town.
(good morning, mrs. smith)
She is sitting in her customary, front-row desk, ankles crossed and pencil out and posture as straight as a yardstick, listening to Ron Weasley fumble over an invitation to the drive-in for later that weekend—
The door flies open.
The background din of hushed, early-morning chatter dies down.
An unfamiliar boy steps into the room.
Because he is tall and handsome—regal, really—with broad shoulders and narrow hips, wavy black hair gelled back from a face that is all sharp lines and harsh angles, better suited for a magazine cover than it is a drab September school day—and his features are striking, magnetizing, smooth, milk-white skin and thin red lips and a square, marble-cut jaw that sweeps up into high, aristocratic cheekbones and flashing brown eyes—his teeth are pristine. His expression is smug.
His clothing, though—
He has on a black leather jacket, slim-fitting and truly inappropriate for the weather, as well as dingy, grease-stained blue jeans that are far too tight to be worn in polite company—she can see the rectangular outline of a fresh pack of cigarettes bulging in the front pocket. A pair of silver-rimmed aviator sunglasses is tucked into the collar of his white cotton undershirt, and the tattered laces of his scuffed Chuck Taylors are hanging loose and untied, dragging along the polished linoleum floor.
He isn't even carrying any books.
"I'm not late, am I?" he drawls, looking around the class with a near-palpable air of indifference; she thinks, for an instant, that his gaze lingers on her, searing and heavy, but that—that would be unacceptable. She is certain she's mistaken.
"Well, actually—" Ernie Macmillan starts to bluster.
"Didn't ask you, Freckles," the new boy interrupts with a nonchalant shrug—he clearly isn't bothered by his lack of punctuality.
She sniffs, reaching up to toy with her small pearl earrings.
He walks lazily towards the back of the room, pausing next to her desk; he smells like aftershave and tobacco and motor oil—mint and spice and sour-sweet gasoline.
She instinctively glances up.
He smirks, tapping the edge of her vinyl pencil case with a long, capable fingertip; her stomach clenches with something hot and foreign and only vaguely uncomfortable.
"I was asking you, darlin'," he murmurs, leaning in close.
She gasps, helpless and strangled—
And then she slams the heel of her cognac leather saddle shoe onto the toe of his sneaker.
"Class begins at 7:30," she tells him with a pleasant, simpering smile.
(you can't miss it, it's everywhere)
She is successful at ignoring the new boy's presence for most of the morning.
She discovers—inadvertently—that his name is Tom Riddle; he is eighteen, an orphan, and correctly answered a question about Othello during English. He continues to sit in the perpetually empty last row of every class they share, deep in the far corner, feet propped up on a peeling windowsill as he slouches casually in the seat of his desk; he doesn't make an appearance in the cafeteria for lunch—thankfully—but she does hear the exaggerated roar of a modified car engine echo across the school parking lot as she unwraps her roast beef sandwich.
Pansy Parkinson and her friends giggle loudly at the noise, matching satin jackets rustling as they blow gravity-defying bubbles with their gum; Hermione figures that one of them will have their garishly painted talons stuck into Tom Riddle by the end of the day, and she wonders absently if it would be crass to ask Padma Patil if she might calculate the statistical probability of an unplanned pregnancy, given the circumstances. Technically speaking, Tom Riddle is an unknown entity, but if he is even half as irresponsibly idiotic as Edmond Lestrange and his gang of Purebloods—
Tom saunters into Algebra ten minutes after the bell rings, sunglasses perched precariously on the end of his nose, the potent tang of cloves and cigarette smoke clinging to his body like a second skin. She exhales impatiently, shaking her head and returning her attention to the chalkboard—she has already memorized the quadratic formula, of course, but it can't hurt to take notes.
Someone drops into the desk behind hers.
"Hey, darlin'," Tom says, breath warm and moist as it cascades over the back of her neck.
Her scalp prickles with awareness.
She grips her pencil tighter.
She doesn't respond.
"Had an unexpected business opportunity pop up during lunch," he goes on. "Took a little longer than anticipated. What'd I miss?"
Her nostrils flare.
"Stop talking to me," she grits out. "I don't care about where you were during lunch."
"Aw, darlin', don't be like that," he croons. "I brought you a present!"
"What is it—your class ring?" she asks drolly.
He chuckles, and it is quiet, slow and dark like the asphalt after it rains.
"And would that be somethin' you'd want, darlin'? My class ring?"
She digs her thumbnail into the pliable pink meat of her rarely-used eraser.
"You don't even know me."
"Maybe I want to know you, darlin'," he replies, voice thick with amusement and arrogance, lilting and lively and rich. "Maybe I want you to know me."
A peculiar shiver dances down the ridges of her spine.
"What's there to know?" she retorts, lifting her chin. "I have next to no interest in fast cars or stolen liquor—we have nothing to talk about."
His desk wobbles as he shifts his weight forward, lips grazing the shell of her ear.
"Well, that's not true at all," he counters playfully. "We're talking just fine right now, aren't we, darlin'?"
"If you choose to categorize my refusal of your romantic overtures as talking, then yes, I suppose we're doing just that."
He releases a short, disbelieving laugh.
"Yeah, yeah—do you want your present or not?"
She opens her mouth to reply, to say no, obviously—any present from him would hardly be satisfactory, after all—
"Mr. Riddle," Ms. Vector interjects abruptly, tone shrill and irritated. "How nice of you to join us for your first day—and with such vocal enthusiasm, too. Perhaps you'd like to volunteer to solve the practice set on the board?"
There is a collective groan of sympathy from the rest of the class. Hermione glances at the equation Ms. Vector is motioning towards—it's dreadfully difficult, a complex arrangement of numbers and variables that is likely an example meant for later in the period. Tom will never be able to—
"Yeah, sure," Tom says, chair screeching as he gets to his feet. He sounds amused. "This a review problem, or what?"
Hermione's mouth falls open—does he not understand the conceptof solving for 'x'? Where had he been raised? Had he even attended a real school before?
"Not quite," Ms. Vector replies coolly. "Go ahead, Mr. Riddle. Take a crack at it."
Tom's lips twitch. He cocks his head to the side, humming thoughtfully, and raises his arm to start writing—either basic arithmetic or gibberish, Hermione isn't certain, but either way he's only going to embarrass himself—
He peeks over his shoulder, looking right at her as the flat his chalk piece meets the foggy green surface of the board.
"Answer's thirteen, darlin'," he says with a devastating grin.
Predictably, several girls in the back of the room sigh wistfully—and Hermione's cheeks burn. How presumptuous of him, honestly, as if that is going to be remotely close to accurate—
His hand glides across the chalkboard, swift and effortless; his penmanship is shockingly legible.
She folds her arms over her chest.
The bottom of his t-shirt drifts up as he bends down, and a thin strip of plain white elastic is visible above the waistband of his jeans.
Her gaze narrows.
He draws an immaculate circle around the number thirteen.
"Very impressive, Mr. Riddle," Ms. Vector says, skepticism evident.
Tom drops the chalk with a triumphant clatter, tosses a mischievous wink in Hermione's direction, and struts back to his desk.
Hermione scowls at the board, feeling vexed.
"How did you know how to do that?" she demands.
He studies her for a long, disconcerting moment. She fidgets.
"Gotta let me keep at least some of my secrets," he eventually teases.
She quirks an eyebrow.
"No," she replies bluntly, "I really don't."
His eyes sparkle.
"And that's what I'm counting on, darlin'."
(this one's a cheap shot)
She's sitting behind a portable aluminum card table that Harry Potter had set up for her that morning, the strings of her ruffled ivory apron tied in an impeccable bow around the curve of her waist, shuffling a stack of laminated red placards as she inspects the overall aesthetic appeal of her golden-brown latticed pie crusts—
The crowd in front of her table suddenly disappears.
A muted, scandalized sort of twittering erupts from the Junior League ladies hovering by the bleachers.
Because Tom Riddle and Edmond Lestrange are strolling towards her, cigarettes in hand and belt buckles in place and the sleeves of their battered leather jackets pushed up their forearms—Edmond is pouting at the grass, pointedly scraping the bottom of his shoe along the fading white lines leftover from the previous night's football game, smearing the paint; Tom shoves him to the side, hard, and Edmond stumbles, squawking in indignation.
"—the fuck, Tommy, you said there'd be pie," Edmond grunts, cigarette pinched between his thumb and forefinger; he takes a drag, smoke whistling through his teeth.
"Do you ever shut up?" Tom growls, combing his fingers through his hair and tugging at the collar of his jacket. "And there is pie, we're at a fucking bake sale."
They're standing in the end zone now, only a couple of feet away from Hermione's table; a group of well-dressed women from her mother's bridge club are appraising Tom and Edmond with curled upper lips and poorly concealed frowns, beady eyes locked on the frayed, uneven tears in the knees of Edmond's tight, low-slung jeans. Edmond catches them looking and sneers, flapping his arm in an exaggerated arc as he yells—
"I'm available for photographs, you know! Five bucks! Nude only!"
Tom snorts and slaps the underside of Edmond's head. Hermione is horrified.
"Quit it," Tom says, taking out his wallet. "Here—go buy something. And don't get the cops called again. I've got shit to do."
Edmond snatches the wallet, smoke furling around the shaggy brown ends of his hair as he clamps his lips around his cigarette to prevent it from falling to the ground.
"Yeah, yeah," he says. "Go woo the homecoming queen, Tommy. I'll be…around. Not getting arrested."
Tom kicks at Edmond's ankle.
"Get me a cookie," he orders. "Peanut butter."
Edmond rolls his eyes and tramps off; Tom then takes the last few steps to Hermione's table.
"Hey there, darlin'," he says, cheeks dimpling. "You forgot to get your present yesterday."
She wrinkles her nose, stubbornly squashing down the piercing thrill of anticipation that has settled low and scorching and deep within her gut.
"I don't want a present from you," she insists, pursing her lips. "And besides—you never even told me what it was. It could be a terrible present."
He leans forward, balancing his elbows on the surface of the table; she tries not to notice the way the lean muscles in his arms ripple and flex as he hunches over.
"Are flowers ever terrible, darlin'?"
Her heart lurches, and she quickly focuses on how serious a cardiac arrhythmia could be if she were to leave it untreated, especially at her age—
"Hey-o," Edmond calls out, ambling back over with a flimsy paper plate and a heaping slice of marionberry pie. "Tommy—I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get arrested if your homecoming queen doesn't vouch for me in a minute—those old broads with the lemon bars are fuckin' vicious, man, when I asked them for a fork they acted like I was gonna stab them with it."
Tom shoots him an exasperated glare.
"I'm gonna stab you with it," he mutters, ducking his chin and clenching his jaw.
Hermione clears her throat, already regretting what she's about to do—
"Here," she says archly, cutting a generous portion of pie and adding it to Edmond's plate. "They won't make you go if they think you're still a paying customer—the church needs a new swing-set for the Sunday school, and Mrs. Weasley just had her ninth child—she has a vested interest in getting it built sooner rather than later."
Tom's easy, practiced smile flickers with surprise, turning more genuine; her heart skips again, warmth suffusing her chest, and she firmly decides that she's coming down with a fever—it's the only reasonable explanation.
"Awful eager to keep me around, aren't you, darlin'?"
She meets his eyes—murky espresso brown in the sunlight, shards of scarlet and caramel and gold, lashes long and thick, pupils contracting and constricting and quivering before they bloom and blossom and oh, oh no oh no oh no—
"You promised me flowers," she informs him haughtily. "And I don't see any."
"Left 'em in my car," Tom says, completely without shame. "Thought I might entice you to take a little ride with me after you finish up."
"A ride on you, you mean," Edmond mumbles, shoveling a forkful of Dutch apple crumble into his mouth.
Hermione inhales sharply, neck flushing pink, and Tom jabs an elbow into Edmond's ribs.
"Keep it up, Eddie, and I'll be putting my next cigarette out on your tongue," Tom snaps. "You're not my fucking translator. Got it?"
Edmond chokes on a chunk of crystallized brown sugar; he thumps his fist against his chest, coughing weakly.
"Ye—yeah, Tommy, sure," he sputters. "Whatever you say."
Tom glowers at Edmond, as if gauging his sincerity.
"Anyway," he finally says, demeanor softening as he turns back to her. "How about it, darlin'—let me take you out tonight?"
She falters; she can't say yes, she knows that, but she is confused—and appalled—by how very much she wantsto. Influenza, she thinks with no small measure of desperation. Dysentery. Pneumonia. She is very, very ill—virtually delirious with it—because that would account for the shivering and the poor judgment and the ache in the pit of her abdomen, exhilarating and exhausting and—wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. She requires medical attention. That's all.
"I'm not…" she trails off, glancing over Tom's shoulder to see Mrs. Weasley watching them with a sour expression on her face. Hermione bristles at the scrutiny, but— "I can't tonight, actually. I'm going to the drive-in with Ron."
Tom's gaze hardens.
"Aw, fuck," Edmond whines.
(all or nothing)
She is lying flat on her back in her bed, pale pink sheets folded at precise, ninety-degree angles beneath her elbows, short linen nightgown itching at the tops of her knees as she struggles to fall asleep—
The plastic alarm clock on her nightstand ticks and whirs, methodical and oddly abrasive.
The air in her room is stale, shimmering silver dust particles floating through the moonlight that's streaming in through her sheer, eyelet lace curtains.
She is wide awake.
She curls her toes, bones creaking.
The front of her underwear feels damp and tacky, the cotton sticking to her skin with every restless shift of her hips, a phantom brush of friction that she wants to chase and follow and capture—
She presses her thighs together.
She resolutely does not picture Tom Riddle, does not imagine soft red lips and a dangerous half-smile, does not hear a deep, slightly slurred voice shouting—
"Hermione! Hey—hey, darlin'! You up there?"
Her window shakes.
Is he actually—
She gapes as a tiny rock hits the glass with a piteous clink.
"Darlin'—I know this's your room, you're th'only one on the whole friggin' block neur—neuro—neurahtic 'nuff to keep your window shut durin' a heat wave, Christ—"
She swings her legs over the side of her bed, stomps barefoot to the window, and tugs it open with a near-silent rasp of its hinges.
She looks down.
Tom Riddle is standing—swaying, really—in the middle of her parents' neatly manicured lawn, with a mostly empty bottle of whiskey clutched in his left hand and an unlit cigarette drooping sadly from his mouth. His ever-present leather jacket is on the ground, a wilting bunch of butter-yellow daffodils resting on top of it, and his t-shirt is snug and well-worn, almost translucent around his biceps, with a stark black grease stain marring the hem—
"What are you doing?" she hisses. "My parents—"
"There y'are, darlin'," he says, talking over her. The whiskey bottle plops onto the grass, and he dives for the daffodils, brandishing the bouquet with a clumsy wave of his hand. "I brought—I told'ya I had flo—flowers for you. I brought 'em. You should—they're for you. Here."
She chews her lip, fighting a smile, and wraps her arms around her waist.
"It's one in the morning, Tom," she responds. "You shouldn't—"
"What?" he bleats, peering up at her. "What'd you—ah, fuck it. I can't hear—I can't hear you, darlin', lemme jus'…"
He looks around the yard with wild-eyed determination, face brightening almost comically as he catches sight of the trellis attached to the side of her parents' house, begonias twining all the way up to her windowsill.
"That'll work," he hiccups, tucking the flowers under his arm and patting his pockets.
"Tom," she says urgently, "what do you think you're—
He launches himself at the trellis in an explosion of purple-pink petals and splintering wood.
He climbs awkwardly, noisily, and she is certain her parents will have woken up by now, certain that her father will soon be sprinting through her doorway wielding a baseball bat, slippers on and glasses askew—
"Jus'—jus' one second, darlin'—ow, Christ, are there—d'these have thorns—"
Tom tumbles over the window ledge and onto the ivory carpeted floor of her room.
She trips and falls backwards onto her bed.
The mattress squeaks.
"I can't believe you just did that," she says, stunned and strangely calm. "You're—you're in my bedroom. You're drunk."
"Your hair's down," he remarks blearily, crawling over to her bed and hauling himself up. "I like it—s'pretty."
She doesn't move.
"You're in my bedroom," she repeats, flustered and frustrated. "Tom."
He nudges her bare leg.
"Like this, too, darlin'—y'should dress like this at sch—school. Or maybe—maybe jus' for me. That'd be nice."
She blushes furiously.
"Tom," she says again, smacking his hand. "What are you doing here?"
He startles, expression dazed as he looks at her thighs.
"Wha—oh," he replies, thrusting the daffodils at her. "Oh. I brought—flowers. Yeah. And a ring."
She scratches at her chin while he rummages through his pockets; the daffodils are wrapped in cellophane, a turquoise satin ribbon tied around their stems.
"There," he announces, placing a heavy gold ring in the palm of her hand. "S'not a class ring 'cuz I moved around too much, but it's a fama—family heirloom. Got it from my uncle b'fore he—b'fore he died."
She picks at the seams of her floral crocheted blanket.
"I thought you were an orphan," she manages to say, spinning the ring around her thumb. It's old, an obvious antique, and has a large, cracked oval onyx set in the center.
His forehead puckers in a frown, and his eyes darken with what she guesses is an unpleasant memory—one of his secrets, then, a puzzle for her to solve—
"I am," he replies simply. "But that doesn't—s'not what I—I jus' want you t'have it, darlin'. I want—you. That's all."
"Why, though? You don't…you don't know me."
He snaps his fingers.
"Exactly," he replies, staring at her intently. "That's—darlin', that's exactly it. I don't know you. You—you're not like anyone else. You're diff—diffri—different. There's somethin' there to get to know. To figure out. And I want that—I want you."
She scrunches the hem of her nightgown between her knuckles, lips parting as a gentle huff of laughter escapes—
No one has ever said that to her before. She has never been different, has never wanted to be different; and from anyone else, the word would not be a compliment. Different isn't good, after all—different is an uneven haircut and a lumpy French braid, a new shade of lipstick, gaudy crimson or iridescent violet, and a sleeveless, scoop-necked blouse; different is a date that isn't movies and milkshakes and cheeseburgers, no, different is a ride in a fast car with a faster boy, sky-high stiletto heels and a too-big leather jacket around her shoulders, yes, different is a class ring that isn't a class ring and a day-old bunch of daffodils, yes, different is a kiss that tastes like liquor and cigarettes and something else, too, something that makes her pulse race and her blood sing—
Different is unique.
Different is special.
"We have to take this slow," she whispers, hesitantly scooting closer to him on the bed. "I've never—"
He kisses her.
And she does not stop him and she does not pull away and she is happy, she thinks, breathless with it, and his hand is cupping her jaw and his chest is pressing hard against hers and she wants to climb into his lap, she does, wants to eliminate all the space between their bodies and just take—
"Oh, darlin'," he groans, trailing his saliva-slick mouth down the column of her throat. "We can take this as slow as you like."
She blinks, lips feeling swollen and bruised.
"Yeah?" she asks.
He bites down on her collarbone.
"Yeah," he pants, licking at her neck. "I'm not goin' anywhere."
Her answering smile, she knows, is patently ridiculous, shy and private and fond—
She supposes that Tom Riddle is an adequate excuse for this sort of behavior.
He's worth the risk, at any rate.