"Not at all Mr. Riddle. You're right on time." Lupin smiled a bit stiffly.
Hermione was confused. What could Lupin possibly want with herself and Percy? She also didn't miss the way his attitude changed slightly at Percy's arrival. It didn't sit well with her that the Professor seemed so prejudiced against Percy, but in his defence, Voldemort did kill his best friend so she supposed he could be excused.
"Professor I'm afraid I don't quite understand. What are we doing here?" she turned to him and asked.
"Wait, Hermione, what are you doing here?" Percy frowned in confusion.
Hermione felt mildly offended for some reason and huffed before turning to Lupin expectantly.
Lupin smiled a little. "Well, Hermione, you're here to help me tutor Mr. Riddle."
Hermione really hoped that Lupin didn't expect that to be explanation enough, because if anything, she was filled with even more questions now.
"What-" she began to say.
"Percy, could you open up the chamber for us? I believe it's that tap over there. The one marked with a snake carving." Lupin interrupted.
Percy blinked in surprise.
"Uh sure," he muttered. "Whoever created this entrance sure was subtle."
Hermione, who was getting rather frustrated at the lack of answers, had to smile at that.
Percy walked up to the sinks and touched the little snake carving. He stood there for a few seconds, an uncertain look on his face.
"Er, I don't actually really know how I'm supposed to open it." He looked down in embarrassment.
"Harry opened it by saying the word 'open' in Parseltongue." Hermione said helpfully.
Percy nodded with a smile and turned back to the tap. He stared at it for a few seconds, brows furrowed in concentration, before suddenly hissing. It was odd for Hermione to hear the strange language coming from someone other than Harry. And it sounded very different. Perhaps it was Percy's American accent, or maybe his slightly deeper voice, but he - well - hissed differently.
Suddenly, the sound of stones grinding against each other could be heard. The sinks started to tremble and split open. With a final 'thud' everything came to a halt and they were left with a gaping hole into a dark abyss.
"Down we go!" Lupin gestured for Percy and Hermione to go first.
Percy nodded and gave Hermione a brief grin before leaping down the hole. Hermione gulped nervously before following him.
Although she had been on countless adventures and had been (mostly) coerced into doing so many dangerous things by now, the familiar sense of fear still shot up her spine, clogging in her throat, as she slid down the smooth stone pipe. The distinct smell of water near plants and the echo of water dripping onto stone assisted her mind in creating an image of what she imagined the Chamber to be like.
But all these thoughts flew by in a flash, and suddenly her feet were hitting the stony ground. She winced as her ankles absorbed the impact of her impromptu landing and gave Percy a reassuring smile at his concerned glance.
"That can't be good for our joints. We should figure out some way to make the landing softer or something." He offered somewhat awkwardly.
Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "That's a good idea. I'll work something out."
Percy furrowed his brow and opened his mouth, but whatever he was going to say was interrupted by Lupin shooting out of the tube and swiftly muttering a levitation charm to gently bring himself to the floor.
"Alright. Through this tunnel I believe." He pointed with his wand and led the way.
Hermione looked at Percy and wanted to ask him what he was trying to say, but he shrugged before she could utter a word, and started following the Professor. Hermione sighed and went after them. Why did it always end up with her following two males to some creepy and probably unsafe location?
Hermione watched with folded arms as Percy went through the motions of the Draconifors Spell, slashing his wand at the hand-sized rock in front of him and chanting "Draconifors!"
A fiery red light erupted from his wand and blasted the rock, fading to reveal a cute little dragon in its place.
"This is still so cool no matter how many times I do it!" Percy grinned as he looked at his dragon with pride.
Hermione tried no to smile at his excitement and promptly failed when he turned that delightful grin in her direction. It was still so bizarre, this situation she found herself in. Who would have thought that she, Hermione Granger - Muggleborn witch, would one day be teaching the grandson of Lord Voldemort transfiguration?! The astonishment from when Lupin explained Percy's problem to her still lingered in the back of her mind.
She was still a little doubtful of it all though. Why would Voldemort send Death Eater to Oblivite his own grandson? It didn't make any sense. Unless the Dark Lord knew that Dumbledore would take Percy in and had a plan that centred around Percy being in Hogwarts. But even that explanation left a lot of questions. Hermione wished she could discuss this with Harry and Ron, but Lupin had specifically told her that it would not do well if such information got out, and that meant keeping it a secret from everyone - including her best friends.
Hermione started and blinked at the tanned hand waving in front of her face. She glanced over the calluses and slightly rough skin and up until her eyes met soft sea-green orbs filled with confusion.
It struck her once again how alluring Percy's eyes were. Sea-green was such an odd blend of colours to have for eyes, and the way they seemed to have a suppressed glow about them. The way they seemed to move; a back-and-forth motion that drew you in, until suddenly you're drifting away, but then the waves would catch you and pull you back. There was something about them that made you feel powerless if you stared into them for too long. It was... hypnotic. And disconcerting.
"Okay you're kinda worrying me now. You okay?" Percy tried to chuckle, but couldn't mask the concern.
"Oh, I- I was just thinking. Sorry." Hermione stammered out a laugh, cheeks flushing slightly in embarrassment.
"Hey no worries! I used to know someone that would often get lost in thought too." Percy's eyes fell to the floor as he trailed off and the sad smile on his face had Hermione furrowing her eyebrows in concern.
"How do you speak Parseltongue," she blurted out, seemingly out of nowhere.
Percy looked up, the expression on his face clearly screaming confusion. "Er, what?"
Hermione pulled her shoulders back, determined to carry on along this path she set herself. "Parse tongue. Tell me about it. Harry's never really been able to explain well, but maybe you can."
"Um, okay," Percy nodded slowly. "What do you want to know?"
They moved to a dry patch on the floor and sat down cross-legged across from each other. Hermione was glad that Lupin had disappeared after teaching Percy some basic Defence Against the Dark Arts, claiming that he was confident in Hermione's abilities to handle Transfiguration on their own, because he probably wouldn't approve of them sitting down and talking about a language that basically represented Dark Wizards and Salazar Slytherin.
"Okay, um, how does it work? How do you just know the language without learning it? How do you know the difference between each type of hiss? What about grammar? What are the rules?" Hermione's eyes shone with that familiar excitement of learning.
"Whoa okay!" Percy laughed a little. "Okay, um, I guess it's just instinct really. Like, I think of what I want to say in English, but I want to actually verbally say it in Parseltongue, and I open my mouth and the hissing comes out, you know? It's hard to explain. I've never actually really thought about until now. Weird huh?"
Percy glanced at Hermione with a little awkward smile, but she just nodded excitedly, silently encouraging him to continue as her mind furiously processed all the information she was receiving.
"Um," Percy tried to remember what else she had asked, "I don't think there's any grammar? I don't think any of the typical rules apply. I just... speak it. And when it's spoken to me, something in my mind automatically translates it to English. It's like, instant. It almost feels like the snakes are speaking English to me, except I hear the hisses, but my brain hears English. Does that make any sense?"
He rubbed the back of his neck nervously, not wanting his incompetence to be the cause of that happy gleam leaving Hermione's eyes. He's never seen someone's eyes light up so much at the prospect of learning, except for...
Hermione noticed the way Percy seemed to... drop and draw into himself. Based off all the other times he seemed to suddenly feel upset, and the things they would have been talking him about when he did, she could conclude that someone or something had clearly hurt him. Somewhat recently, too, judging by how often he got like this. And even though they didn't really know each other, Hermione hated to see him so hurt, and decided that she was going to do her best to cheer him up as much as possible whenever he was around her.
"I can make that make sense, don't you worry! I'm rather intelligent, if I do say so myself!" She winked, glad to see him smile a little at that.
"Tell me something... unexpected about yourself. Something I would be completely shocked by." Hermione asked eagerly, hoping to learn a little more about the mysterious Riddle while also distracting him from whatever plagued his thoughts.
Percy furrowed him eyebrows for a few moments before grinning, a little twinkle appearing in his eyes.
"I can swordfight. I've been told I'm pretty good actually!"
Hermione blinked. Well, she definitely wasn't expecting that! But... that would explain the calluses. And Percy's physique. And why he was so good at DADA. So really not as surprising a reveal then.
"I- wow. That's amazing! you must need to practise a lot!" Hermione exclaimed.
"Yeah, I mean, I used to practise everyday, but I don't exactly have a sword with me here." Percy shrugged, ruffling his hair a bit.
"You could use the Room of Requirement." Hermione mused. "Yes! You know how to get to it. Just think of a sword training arena as you walk past it and there you go!"
Percy nodded in surprise.
"Yeah. Yeah that could definitely work! I'll give it a go sometime." He promised with a smile.
Hermione smiled back. She couldn't help but feel... safe around him. Sure, he was a Riddle, and his grandfather was probably going to kill everyone she knew and loved, but she was starting to find more and more differences between Percy Riddle, Grandson of Lord Voldemort and Percy, a sword-fighting Ravenclaw with the looks of a Greek God. And she couldn't help but like Percy from Ravenclaw.
"So, tell me something about yourself. Full name, favourite colour, you know, that sort of thing." Percy looked away with a little cough, rubbing at the back of his neck again. Hadn't meant to just stare into Hermione's eyes for a moment like that. It was intense, though, and he kind of liked looking into eyes that reminded him of warm caramel, or chocolate. He tried not to blush at the awkwardness he must have created.
Hermione was quick to pull herself together and not appear fazed, a feat she was proud of, and smile brilliantly at the boy pointedly avoiding her gaze while sitting in front of her.
"Hermione Jean Granger. Gyffindor Prefect and founder of S.P.E.W!" She announced proudly. "And my favourite colour is light blue."
"Hey my favourite colour's blue too!" Percy exclaimed excitedly. "Only a more deeper blue. and what's S.P.E.W?"
Hermione smiled at the almost child-like excitement displayed by Percy. It was just so cute! "S.P.E.W. Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. I want to better the treatment of house-elves. They're practically slaves!"
Percy's eyes widened. "Whoa. Slavery huh? That's awful. And a serious issue. It's awesome that you're trying to do something against it. I- I'd love to hear more about it!"
"Wait, really?" Hermione couldn't believe it. "You want to know more? You don't think it's ridiculous and pointless and that the elves are actually happy the way they are so I should just leave them be?!"
"Well, yeah." Percy shrugged in confusion. "Why would I think wanting fair treatment for everyone is pointless or ridiculous?"
Hermione was stumped. Someone was actually seeing it from her point of view. Percy wanted to know more. He didn't think she was wasting her time. That she was being an idiot.
Suddenly, she flung her arms around his neck, pressing her face into his neck. Percy just barely managed to catch her by wrapping his arms around her waist, although it was more a reflex than anything as he was still shocked from her sudden attack. Hermione closed her eyes and slowly breathed in the smell of the sea that seemed to cling to him.
Just as suddenly, she pulled back and put some space between them again, a faint blush rising in her cheeks. Percy, although still very confused, couldn't prevent a slight blush too.
Hermione coughed awkwardly. "Sorry. You're just the only person to ever understand."
She smiles shyly.
Percy grins back - his signature troublemaker grin that makes Hermione once again curse the fact that she finds rebelliousness attractive - and slowly stands up.
"Well, how about we meet up tomorrow and you explain all the fine details to me?" He suggests, offering his hand.
Hermione let's herself be pulled up and nods. "Sure. That would be fantastic. I can't wait to tell you all about it!"
Percy ruffles his hair and pulls out his wand, dropping Hermione's hand in the process. "Well, let's get back to it shall we? Charms next right?"
Hermione grabbed her wand too with a nod and a smile. Although she would have never guessed that this is where she would be today, she was glad. Because she finally getting to know Percy, and she was determined to prove everyone's distrust and instant assumptions wrong. She just knew that Percy was going to be a vital part of events to come, and by Merlin's name, she was going to have him on her side!
Unedited. Sorry. Would have written more, but that would have taken ages and I wanted to get an update out. So yeah, her you go. Not my best work I know. Again, sorry.