She infuriated him, all bushy hair and that hand constantly waving in the air as if she were drowning in the sea and only the professor's attention could save her. She was a know-it-all, a swot, and so socially inept it almost hurt to watch her.
She'd fallen into the past, broken time turner in her hand and confused horror on her face, a third year student placed into a dorm and told to just take classes and everything would get sorted out.
She also had higher marks then him and that meant she had to be either acquired or neutralized. He wasn't particular about which option turned out to be the right choice.
She hated him. All smug arrogance with that aristocratic smile and the lips that curled in disdain whenever her blood status was mentioned. She could feel him watching her. All the time he studied her as if she were a problem to which he was trying to tease out an answer.
He made her brain itch and her skin crawl and her pulse race and she wished he'd leave her alone.
He watched her for so long he knew her moods like he knew his own. He looked for her at breakfast. He sat close enough in the library to hear the tuneless humming she did when she read.
He saw she was friendless and lonely and scared and covering all that with crossed arms and defiant glares. He saw she was brilliant and vulnerable.
He saw the smiles she let free when she thought she was alone and she found an idea in a book that excited her. He realized, one afternoon, he'd come to look forward to those smiles. He wanted to see them more often.
He considered killing her. She was a weakness and he didn't have time for weaknesses.
Still, that smile. No need to be hasty.
She twitched when he sat next to her and shifted subtly away. He pulled the book she had been reading out of her fingers and, over her protests, read the name of the potion she'd been reviewing.
"Felix Felicis," he said, trying not to sound impressed. "That's seventh year work."
She shrugged. "I thought if I made it it would help me figure out how to get back to my right time."
"You don't trust the powers that be?" He asked. He didn't, of course, but most students did. Children were so conditioned to trust adults they didn't stop to question authority. Of course, adults believed children were harmless, a misconception he was happy to exploit.
She snorted rather rudely, however, at his question about trust and his interest in the witch, already too high, increased.
"Why go back?" He asked her. "Why not stay here?"
She looked at him as if he were an idiot. "My friends are there," she said. "My family is there. My life is there."
"Surely you have some friends here," he said. She looked at him and shook her head and he said, "Well, how about me?"
She pointed at him and said, "Slytherin," and then tapped her finger on her chest and said with exaggerated patience, "Muggle-born."
He pointed at her and said, "Hermione." He pointed back at himself and said, "Tom. Since, apparently, we are naming things today."
"Very funny," she said. "I know that you despise me. It doesn't exactly make for a good start to a friendship."
"You shouldn't believe every rumor you hear," Tom said. "You, of all people, should know that people are envious of anyone who shines; they attempt to dim us with their lies."
She smiled. Oh, he thought, that smile. He slid her book back across the table to her and said, "Do you want some help?"
"Do you really want to offer it?" she asked.
"It's good to acquire new skills," Tom said. And people, he thought.
He infuriated her. All brilliant smiles and those awful friends. But once Tom Riddle had turned his attention on to you it was impossible to resist. It didn't take long for her to stop even trying.
She charmed him with that smile. He told himself it simply wasn't rational to discard any girl who could make the good luck potion at thirteen.
Even if he had helped.