People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect,
but actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint,
it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.
~ Dr. Who
When Hermione Granger woke up she was not in her own bed. For one thing, the light was wrong and for another the smell was off. Her own room smelled of the expensive rose cream Ron gave her for every birthday and this room smelled more like the musty scent of an old bookstore and a wood fire.
She took a deep breath and kept her eyes closed. You are a war heroine, she reminded herself. You survived a monster and the personal attentions of his most trusted lieutenant. Whatever is going on, you will be fine. She reached her hand under the pillow, where she always kept her wand at home, and, when her fingers closed around the familiar stick of wood, she felt herself unwind with the relief that she wasn't unarmed.
"Well, that answers one question."
She sat up and pointed her wand at the sound of that voice and found herself staring at a man dressed in what looked to be some kind of period costume and she wondered briefly if she'd somehow gone home with an actor. The man was sitting in one of two chairs by a lit fire, had dark hair and brilliant blue eyes, and had a wand of his own leveled at her.
"What question would that be?" Hermione was suddenly aware that she was wearing nothing but knickers and an old Muggle t-shirt proclaiming her love for the Sex Pistols. Meeting a man for the first time while wearing a shirt with the word 'sex' in giant letters across her breasts seemed an inauspicious way to begin any relationship but, more importantly, also very strange. Why was she wearing what she wore to bed when she slept alone, in her own flat, while lying in this unknown room.
Something very odd was going on.
"Whether you're a witch or not," the man said. "Obviously, you are." He spoke with an upper class accent that was a little bit too perfect. You learned that, she thought. You weren't born to it.
"Who the fuck are you?" Hermione said, narrowing her eyes, "and how did I get here?"
"As to the latter, I have no idea," the man said. "You were there when I came home. I would have assumed you'd let yourself in but the last woman who tried to insinuate herself into my life via the sex she assumed she could lure me into died so unpleasantly no one has tried since."
"Lovely," Hermione muttered.
"Plus the wards are nigh well impossible to breach," the man continued on as if she hadn't spoken. "So you are an interesting puzzle." He let his eyes move off her face for the first time. "Nice shirt."
"They're an excellent band," Hermione said. "What did you say your name was?"
The man raised his eyebrows. "Tom Riddle. And you are?"
Hermione wasn't a fainter. She had gotten coldly practical during the war she'd lived through, the war she'd helped win fighting against the monster the groomed and handsome man in front of her claimed to be and so, when she heard his name, she just narrowed her eyes and said "Avada Kedavra," launching the curse at him without pause. He blocked it easily.
"Interesting," he said. "You become more interesting with every moment. Have we met?"
"What year is this?" Hermione hissed.
"1953," the man - Tom Riddle - said. She snarled and tried the Killing Curse again. He blocked it again. "You already failed with that one," he said. "Don't turn into someone tiresome."
"Sectrumsempra," she snapped and he blocked that too.
"I don't think I know that one," he said. "Kudos on staying intriguing." Suddenly she felt her wand yanked from her grip and watched in horror as it sailed across the room and Tom Riddle caught it. "Still, I think I've had enough."
Hermione scrambled off the bed and began trying to cross the room to the door.
"Stop," Tom Riddle said, his wand pointed at her. "For one thing, I do believe I'd mentioned the wards. No one goes in or out of this room without my express permission." He frowned. "Usually." He gestured toward another chair next to the fireplace. "Second, this castle is filled with my followers, most of whom would do exactly one thing with an attractive woman dressed the way you are. Let's have a nice, civilized discussion, shall we, instead of you running headlong into an unpleasant assault at their hands? Then, if you like, we can go back to dueling, though I do feel I should warn you that if we do that you will quite likely die."
"Fuck you," Hermione spat at him.
"What year are you from?" he asked.
"2003," she said.
"The manners in 2003 appear to be atrocious," he said. "And I don't think much of the fashion either." His voice hardened. "Sit down or I will make you sit down."
Hermione glared at him but sat.
He cast a quick spell she didn't recognize and within moments there was a knock at the door. Tom Riddle opened the door with a wave of his wand and said to the very fair man on the other side, "I am entertaining a guest. Have the kitchen send up tea and a light snack and find some suitable attire for a woman of quality." The man - a near perfect duplicate of Draco Malfoy, Hermione noticed - began to ask a question and Tom said, in obvious irritation, "Just do it and spare me the tedious details. Or are you unable to accomplish such a trivial matter without specific instructions and incentives?"
The man was quick to reassure 'my lord' that it was no problem at all. He ran his eyes over Hermione though it seemed like he was trying to make a quick assessment of her size rather than her charms.
"Already using the pathetic 'Lord Voldemort' moniker in private?" she asked after the man had left.
Tom Riddle twirled his wand between his hands. "So very interesting," he said. "You seem to know who I am and yet I don't even know your name."
Hermione didn't speak.
"We seem to have gotten off on quite the wrong foot," Tom Riddle said. "However, as you appear to be fairly well informed about my life you might also be aware I am a not untalented legilimens. We can have a conversation or I can rape your brain. Which do you prefer?"
"You die," she said. "In the future. Just so you know. All your plans? All your pathetically evil plans? Worthless. You die and I help to kill you."
"That makes me so sad," Tom Riddle said. "And I had such great hopes for my dream of opening a chain of bakeries. Well, if that's doomed to fail, perhaps I shall simply try to take over the world instead. What did you say your name was again?"
"Hermione Granger," she said, giving in to the inevitable. I'm a Mudblood, by the way."
Riddle shrugged. "I wouldn't mention that to Abraxas - he has opinions on that issue - but as you have already charmed me with your sudden appearance out of nowhere and your lack of even the tiniest bit of hesitation in using Dark curses I think I can manage to overlook that, Miss - it is Miss, isn't it? - Granger."
"Yes," she muttered. "It's Miss."
"Bit of an old maid," he observed.
"In 2003 being 25 is not considered an old maid," Hermione said, stung. "And I have a boyfriend."
That was, she thought, mostly true. They were on a break - again - but they always got back together after these breaks. She didn't technically have a boyfriend now but had the month before and would again in a few weeks. That was just how things went. They fought all the time and Ron stormed out and then he apologized and came back.
"Not one you bother to dress up for," Riddle said, considering her appearance and her claim of a boyfriend. "Another Mudblood, I assume?"
"Pureblood," she snapped.
"My," he said. "Bit of a social climber, aren't you. Well done, Miss Granger. You certainly have the looks for it."
She shook her head in fury and disbelief both that she was fencing with Tom Riddle about her personal life and that he was, in some peculiar way, complimenting her. A tray appeared on the table between them and he began neatly pouring tea from a simple pot into two cups. "Sugar or milk?" he asked her. She shook her head and sat, nonplussed, as Tom Riddle handed her a cup of tea and offered her a biscuit.
"No thank you," she said and set the cup down, the tea untasted.
"This isn't hell," he said, amused, "And I'm not Hades. You won't be trapped forever just because you eat something."
"I beg to differ with you on the hell bit," she said, "Though I do agree you don't rise to the level of a god, much as you might like to."
Tom Riddle sighed and took a sip of his own tea. "What, I wonder, am I to do with you," he mused. "You've killed me in your past and my future. Since you already did it, it cannot be undone." He leaned back and bit his lip as he pondered. "Or can we change time? And if so, by how much?"
"I don't want to change the future," she snapped. "Anything that ends up with you dead is good."
He eyed her. "It must be very unpleasant, this future," he said. "It's certainly made you hate me very much and all I've done is offer you tea."
"And threatened me with legilimancy, among other things," she pointed out.
"You did try to murder me the moment you heard my name," Tom Riddle said. "A reasonable man might take exception to that." He took another sip. "And yet, nevertheless I've sent a man off to find you clothing and am sitting her trying to have a discussion when, let's be fair, no one would blame me for just killing out of hand." He poked at the biscuits before adding, "Self defense, you see. And you did use an Unforgivable curse on me, or tried to." He glanced up. "And you meant it too."
"I did," Hermione agreed. "Give me back my wand and I'll mean it again."
"I don't think so," Tom Riddle said. He smiled at her. "I'd much rather have you on my arm as my fair and lovely companion."
"Are you insane?" Hermione asked him before muttering, "Never mind, of course you are. Don't bother answering that."
"I'm quite rational," Riddle said. "Am I not in the future?"
"No," she said baldly. "You're an utter loon."
"See, I'd like to avoid that." He smiled. "I think you'll help me."
There was a knock at the door and, again, Tom opened it from where he sat and, again, a man Hermione assumed was Abraxas Malfoy stood in the doorway. He had two large shopping bags from Harrods, of all places, that appeared to be stuffed full. "I had to - "
"Don't care," Riddle said. "Did you do what I asked?"
"Yes, my lord," the man said.
"Then leave the bag and get out," Riddle said. Once the door was shut, he sighed. "Good help is hard to come by," he said by way of explanation and then made a shooing gesture. "Go put something on. I assume you're able to do minor magical alterations on your own?"
"I'd need my wand for that," Hermione said, holding out her hand. He tossed it to her and the moment - the very moment - it was in her hand she tried a Cruciatus curse.
"I admire your focused intent," Tom Riddle said as he somehow summoned her wand back again, "as well as the way you've tried a new strategy, but I simply cannot permit you to curse me. I see I shall have to fix any clothing issues with your new wardrobe myself." He let his eyes travel along her body. "Do you want to stay in your knickers?"
She flushed and turned to go rummage though the bags thinking with black humor that it was too bad she'd never be able to tell Draco Malfoy that his grandfather had gone shopping for her in a Muggle department store. Or had, at least, apparated in, stolen a bunch of things, and apparated out again. Abraxas had excellent taste, she had to admit, and a good eye for female sizes; she pulled on a polka dotted dress with a white collar and matching belt and permitted herself a little, feminine spin of delight at the full skirt.
"Much better," Tom Riddle said. "I cannot tell you how disconcerting it was to converse with you before." He gestured toward her seat and she sat back down. "As I was saying, I think you'll be my lovely companion."
"Do you normally just inform people of things like that?" she asked him. "No, 'Gosh, I'd like to go steady with you, Miss Granger?' Just, 'do it'?"
Tom Riddle shrugged. "You're trapped in a time you don't belong, in a castle with a man you've killed, or will kill, and whom you hate. And, while it's boring to point out the obvious, I'm not interested in wooing you, only in taking advantage of your knowledge. Aren't you at least the tiniest bit curious how you ended up here?" He smiled at her again and she shivered at how warm and engaging that smile was. "And, really, killing me might be a bad idea. Who knows what that would do to the timeline."
"I'm working on the 'kill Lord Voldemort first, sort out the temporal paradox issues later' plan," Hermione said. She tried to keep her eyes away from her wand. "Or I would be."
"No interest at all in changing that future?" Tom Riddle said. "Think of how much influence you could have over me as my trusted advisor."
"Trusted?" she snorted at that.
"You'll sleep in my bed, eat at my side," he smiled. "Everyone will assume we're madly in love." He set his cup of tea down and studied his nails. "And if you step out of line, I'll make you wish you were dead."
"I will never stop trying to kill you," Hermione said.
"As long as you do it in private," Riddle said with a shrug. "It would be bad for my image for you to be quite so, let me see, what should I call it - "
"Eager to kill you? Not actually a girlfriend but a prisoner?" Hermione suggested.
"Oh, the minions wouldn't care if you were a prisoner," Riddle said. "They've certainly had their own share of such. No," he said as she paled. "I just can't have them thinking it's acceptable to attack me and if you were to do it where they could see I'd have to nip that little behavior problem in the bud." He stood up. "It's not like you have a real choice, Miss Granger. We can enjoy one another's company as we unravel the mystery of your appearance in my bed or I can repeatedly torture you to amuse myself and then ask you questions about the future while you lie on the floor weeping." He glanced at the scar on her arm. "We might want to cover that up. As I said, Abraxas has opinions."
"Why not just do the latter?" Hermione demanded as the man cast a glamour hiding the scar.
"You are intriguing," he said. "It was impossible for you to appear here and yet you did. You are clever and talented and I am easily bored. And the possibility you might help me do better, whether you wish to or not, makes it worth my while to keep you mentally whole."
"I hate you," she said in a low voice.
"You don't even know me," Tom Riddle said. "Perhaps when we further our acquaintance you will change your mind."
Hermione exhaled, terrified at that possibility. Still, if she were well and truly trapped here, it was better to play along then not.
Tom Riddle held out his arm and, recognizing the implied command, she stood up and took it. "It's time for you to meet the minions," he said. "They are mostly idiots. Try not to be too depressed at their lack of wit or talent."
"It's probably all the inbreeding," she muttered.
Tom Riddle's laughter filled the room as he opened the door for her. "I knew I liked you," he said.
. . . . . . . . . .
A/N - Welcome to my new Tomione. It is wholly rough drafted so you may read without fear of abandonment.