A/N: Caution mentions of abuse from the first word, trigger warnings. The whole story will deal with mentions of child abuse, drug abuse. Read at your own risk, there will be other warnings through out the chapters to let those knows what to avoid.
Disclaimer: I do not own any recognisable characters and no money has been made from this.
Completely AU set in another world where there was no rise of Voldemort no wizarding wars have taken place.
Set during the Sixth year just when Hermione thought her DADA Professor Bellatrix Black was the only thing to worry about the announcement of Riddle Championships brings heart ache for all. The Championships will force everyone to test themselves to the extreme after all the Championships are the closest thing to war in the wizarding world. Hermione will discover there is much more to learn while having to deal with her inner demons she finds herself face to face with living demons. With fame and glory as the prize the true colours of all will be revealed. If that's not enough, the Ministry of Magic seems to be going through some changes could a Muggleborn winning truly cause a revolution? The Order of the Phoenix seems to think so.
Remember this is A/U I won't be giving much away just have to go with it. Things will be explained with time, but there was no first or second wizarding war or any rise of Lord Voldemort. The Potter's are still alive unfortunately Neville's Longbottoms parents were still tortured just not by Bellatrix. This story is not related to any of my other stories.
Story is currently being re-edited.
Thank you to Nyctophileo for patience and being my beta.
"A witch!" He hisses; his breath smells like rum and the young girl recoils back into the armchair, staring at him with wide eyes. "A filthy, no good witch…"
"Dad," The girl opens her mouth to protest, but a sharp slap to the cheek knocks her to the floor. Tears spring from her eyes.
"You disgust me. You and your god damn race!"
"Please!" She whispers, curling into a ball. She knows what is coming
Brown eyes snap open at the sound of someone shifting in the dorm. She listens, unmoving, as the person moves around, waits until she hears the spring of the mattress before she relaxes. Glancing at the window, she sees the light blue sky and knows she will forever be twisting and turning in her bed with no sleep.
Slipping from her bed, her feet touch the cold wooden floor. She ignores the biting chill and silently dresses. She learned a long time ago how to move without making a sound. Only the door shutting softly behind her makes the slightest hint of a click as she closes it with a practised hand. As she makes her way down the winding staircase, she hears snoring wafting from the boys' dorms. Her cloak grazes the last step as she walks into the warm common room. She notices the regular figure sitting next to the fire, zoned out and staring at it, as though it holds answers to life's unknowable questions. Maybe for him it does.
She presses a reassuring hand to the boy's shoulder; he tenses in alarm before relaxing as she gives him a calming smile.
"You okay, Neville?" She asks, her voice strangely gruff.
"Dreams." He murmurs. She knows he meant memories but does not press the matter. "You're up early, 'Mione."
"Dreams." She answers with a smile.
"You off to see Hagrid?" He asks, turning to look at her.
"Yes. He says he wants help with something or another. You know what Hagrid's like." She says, pulling her hair into a ponytail.
"He's going to hire you as his assistant at this rate."
"I'm sure Hagrid can cope without me. He just likes having someone to talk to. I'm going to be late, anyway. Try to get some rest, Neville." She says, squeezing his shoulder on her way out.
She takes the steps two at a time, barely making any sound as she heads for the exit. She hopes Filch will leave her be if he sees her. She does not fancy being taken to the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor on this dreary morning. Luck is on her side as she slides out the front door and humidity greets her. Making her way down towards Hagrid's hut, she listens as the forest begins to stir. She can see Hagrid moving outside of the hut, knows he is feeding Fang as the giant dog sits patiently, wagging his massive tail.
"Morning, Hagrid." She calls, taking the last few steps towards the groundskeeper.
"Yer here early, Hermione. Not expectin' ya for another hour or so." Hagrid greets, sending her a smile.
"Couldn't sleep. Plus, I've got another essay to finish."
"Black keepin' ya busy?"
"She's always got something for me to do. I don't think she likes me handing in my work early."
"I don't like that woman… She always lurking, don't trust her. She shouldn't be puttin' too much pressure on ya any way."
Hermione shrugs; she knows Hagrid is just watching over her. She gives him a small smile, noticing a pile of rotting wood. While Hagrid finishes feeding Fang, she casts a small restoration charm, turning the wood from rotting to pristine in an instant. Hagrid's wand wasn't the best for casting spells.
"What are you up to today?" Hermione asks, taking Hagrid's mind off the evil Professor residing in the castle behind her.
"The twins 'ave been up to somethin' again. Dumbledore asked if I could 'ave a look."
"By the lake, ye joinin' me this mornin'?"
"Love to. Meet you there?" Hermione questions, stretching her muscles.
"O'course." He replies watching Hermione jog away. "Don't work too hard, ya hear!" He calls after her, receiving a small wave in response.
Her feet pound the sand near the lake, blood pumping. She feels adrenaline rush through her body, enjoys the wind beating against her. Her hair is tied tightly, swishing softly behind her. Her trainers catch the edge of the lapping water, causing it to splash against the side of her leg. She watches Hagrid in the distance, thinking it highly unlikely the gentle giant will find what the Weasley boys have hidden. She knows from experience that the only way of finding the hidden prank is after it has gone off.
She pauses, taking a swig of water, before accelerating her body once more into a run. She feels the muscles in her legs constrict as she pushes herself. Not many know she spends her mornings running. The magical world does not seem to truly understand the importance of keeping fit. She can see their confusion, as though running was below them, another inexplicable Muggle activity with no place in the Wizarding world. Despite this, Hermione regularly keeps a healthy routine. She knows the importance of keeping her body in top form. If you cannot beat your opponent, retreat is the only option. Without a wand, a witch or wizard is powerless. Just keep running.
"Are you being chased?" The haughty voice startles her, causing her to lose her footing and stumble to one knee, catching the other on a small rock. Just her luck.
Wincing at the scratch to her exposed knee, Hermione looks to the arrogant witch standing a few feet away. A cruel smile plays on the witch's face, distorting the beautiful features into something much more menacing. Long, thick, black curls cascade heavily down her shoulders. Black eyes bore into Hermione through long eyelashes. Getting to her feet, Hermione stares defiantly at the tall witch, before brushing the sand from her knees.
"Professor Black." Hermione greets, as pleasantly as she can.
Quirking a perfect brow, Professor Black's eyes flash a frightening hue before returning to their normal colour. Hermione ignores her initial reaction to step back. She has never seen eye to eye with this Professor. She knew the witch still believed in blood superiority, despite teaching at Hogwarts and working under Dumbledore. She never actually pronounced it, but her actions painted a thousand words. She ignored pureblood students' infractions, but if a muggle born so much as breathed wrong under her watchful eye, she was there with a detention. Prejudice. It was unfortunate for Hermione to be both the brightest witch of her age and a muggle born. She often came nearly to blows with Black, and she knew the witch hated her with a passion. Except, Hermione never put a foot wrong, so the Professor could never give her detention, instead she made her do extra work.
Hermione should have known the dark witch was not intentionally being nice when she offered her the opportunity to have an extra curriculum in her class. It was both a privilege and a curse to have the extra workload. It put more pressure on her, but she would never admit defeat to the dark witch. She rose to the challenge and, as expected, completed all her homework on time. If the dark witch knew all the hours, all the many days, that Hermione worked into the early morning, yawning into her textbooks, she would feel as though she was winning, so Hermione kept the crippling workload a closely guarded secret.
"Granger, what are you doing?" Black tongue rolls her name as though it is a foul taste in her mouth, but Hermione had learned long ago to ignore the insult.
Stretching to keep her muscles warm, Hermione replies. "Exercising. It helps to keep brain function sharp. It's also very beneficial for stretching the muscles in your body. Also proven to significantly lower your chances of heart failure, dementia, diabetes, etc."
Black raises her hand, stopping the witch from continuing. "You're just a walking encyclopaedia, aren't you?"
"Only on important things."
"Why are you 'exercising' so early, Granger?" Black questions wearily. "Make it a short answer; I have yet to have my coffee."
"My routine." Hermione replies with a slight smirk. "Why you here, Professor?"
Sending Hermione a glare at the impertinence of the question, Black still answers. "Weasel twins are apparently planning a surprise. I'm here to help that oaf." She points to Hagrid in the distance. "On my way there when I noticed one of my students running…willingly, as well."
"I like running." Hermione shrugs at the look from her Professor.
"Yes…" Black drawls, wondering if she should send the girl to see Pomfrey. "Where's the boy who doesn't know when to quit and the ginger brat who got the leftovers of the gene pool?"
"Should you really be saying this in front of me?" Hermione muses, not sure if she should laugh at the insult to her friends or be offended.
"Are you going to tell Potter and Weasel on me? Last time I remember, Weasel wet his pants last time he was given to me for detention."
"Because of a spell." Hermione argues.
A slight twist of the lips is the only indication that Black is relieving the memory. "Yes, and yet, if I remember correctly, you were the one who cast it, were you not?"
Turning pink at the reminder, Hermione eyes dart away from the witch. "So you say."
Snorting at the childish reply, Black unfolds her arms and takes a step forward. "So tell me, why is the know it all of the trio out running… without her bumbling, idiot friends with her?"
"Pretty sure that's bullying…" Hermione murmurs to herself. "Kind of self-explanatory."
"Explain it to me." Black orders, her voice like steel.
"Well they're…" Hermione tries to find the right term to explain and notices the professor's tapping foot, hurrying her along. "Well they're wizards…"
"That's not a reason, Granger."
"Actually it's quite a fitting one. See, if you're born into the wizarding world, you rely solely on magic. You forget the importance of exercise, staying fit, because everyone thinks magic will always cure any disease, prevent any injury. When it can't, not all the time."
Hermione watches her Professor mulling the information over before a sadistic smile graces her lips, causing a shiver to run slightly through Hermione's body. She shuffles her feet, trying to ignore the evil look gracing the witch's face.
"Maybe for the likes of you," Black grins. "But true witches and wizards manage just fine."
Hurt, Hermione represses the urge to give Professor Black the middle finger. The words are like a sharp blow straight to her heart. Her heart stumbles and tears are ready to break the hold of her angry glare, but she refuses to let them fall. Instead, she swallows any retort, not giving Professor Black the satisfaction of seeing her upset.
Disappointed at the lack of response, Professor Black notices the hurt in the girl's eyes. It causes her own eyes to gleam with sadistic, triumphant joy. She smiles, her dazzling teeth like a wolf's, smiling before it takes down its prey.
"Don't feel bad Granger, you should be proud." Confused, Hermione watches the witch warily. "You used initiative. By replacing your lack of magic through being more muggle is… inspiring, some would say."
Swallowing hard to keep her emotions in check, Hermione's wand vibrates in her pocket, telling her that exercise has ended. Shaking her head at the dark witch, she moves away, heading towards the castle.
"I expect your paper to be done in time for my lesson today." Black calls after her. "I don't want your muggle studies to get in the way of you being a witch."
Turning on the spot, Hermione glares at the smirking pureblood in front of her. All sorts of curses sit on her tongue, ready to be unleashed on the Professor. Instead, she manages to control her anger and watches as Black tilts her head to the side in a silent question. "Something you want to say?"
"It's already on your desk." Hermione grinds out, before walking away.
"I expected nothing less." Black says quietly, watching the retreating form of her student. She spots the half giant in the distance. "It seems today is to be filled with filth." She grumbles, taking a step towards Hagrid. "I wonder if Minerva will notice if I spike my coffee with fire whiskey." She ponders to herself as she walks toward the shimmering lake and Hagrid, who is reaching to pick up a large, suspiciously shaped rock. She sighs.
~~~~~ Chapter One ~~~~~
A mumbling mass of students eat and chat during breakfast, most not noticing the few missing professors. Owls swoop in, dropping off post, parcels, and newspapers. At the Gryffindor table, Hermione sits, surrounded by Ron, Harry, Ginny, and the rest of their small group of friends. Harry, absorbed in reading his paper, doesn't notice the gooey eyes of Ginny looking at him. Ron busily stuffs his face full of everything present at the table. Slowly buttering her toast, Hermione regards her friends in silent consideration. She wonders what her life would be like if things were more exciting, if she were destined for something other than to earn brilliant marks for her work.
What would it be like to have an adventure? She enjoys school immensely, but she cannot help wishing for something more interesting. "Am I not meant for greatness?" She keeps her thoughts to herself, pulling a face at Ron's pig-like behaviour. In the corner of her eye, she notices Professor Black taking a seat next to Professor McGonagall. Both witches share of look of loathing with the other before Black helps herself to the food on offer. "If there was ever a war, I wonder if those witches could put their differences aside." Hermione muses to herself as Ron reaches, unnoticed, over her plate for an eclair. A clatter behind her makes her snap from her thoughts and turn to the sound.
War has broken out between Hufflepuff and Slytherin. She notes the quick, decisive action of Professor Sprout as she marches over to wrangle her fifth year Hufflepuffs. Hermione half expects Black to get involved. However, the witch doesn't stir from her perch. Instead, she watches, amused, from her throne. The Slytherins, clearly enjoying themselves, continue causing trouble despite Professor Sprout's involvement. An errant spark explodes on the Hufflepuff table, causing a few girls to shriek and jump to vacate their chairs.
Professor McGonagall leans in to speak to Professor Black. Hermione can see the disgust flash across the dark witch's face before she gives a slight nod. A flick of Black's wand is the only warning before all the wayward Slytherins are forced into their chairs.
"Enough!" Black commands, her voice rising only slightly.
Despite her hatred for the witch, Hermione still marvels at the command she wields. Watching on, all the remaining students quickly return to their table and any spells cease. Satisfied, Black returns to her breakfast, releasing the Slytherins from their body binds.
"That's not fair." Ron splutters between mouthfuls.
"What? That Black lets her pupils do whatever they like?" Ginny retorts.
"Yeah! I mean why should they get away with everything? We should teach them a lesson, mate." says Ron, nudging Harry's arm.
"Don't be absurd Ronald, what are you going to do? Challenge the whole of Slytherin to a duel?" Hermione demands, sharing a withering look with Ginny.
"Nah, I think we should give them a surprise. Fred and George always have fireworks lying around; maybe we could sneak them into the Slytherin Common room and set them off while they're asleep. That will teach the idiots."
"It's a good idea 'Mione." Harry nods enthusiastically.
"It's a stupid idea," Hermione argues, ignoring the hurt look on Ron's face. "You're parents are already annoyed about you sneaking into the forest at night. If they learn you did this Harry, they might pull you from the school."
"My dad will understand," defends Harry, "He hates Slytherins as much as I do."
"It's a stupid idea." Hermione murmurs, realising the boys have already made their minds up, regardless of what she thinks.
"It's not like we're going to get caught, not with Harry's map." Ron smiles triumphantly. "Relax 'Mione, it'll be fun."
"Black will tear you limb from limb." Hermione reminds them, taking a sip of pumpkin juice, then looking towards the Teachers table.
She freezes like a deer in headlights, finding herself the sole object of Professor Black's attention. Piercing black eyes are focused solely on her. Once the witch knows she has Hermione's attention, she glances to both Harry and Ron before smiling in her menacing, predatory way. "She knows." Hermione realises, looking towards the boys, too busy planning to notice they are under surveillance. The slightest movement from the dark witch is so agonisingly slow. Hermione watches, transfixed, as the witch runs a hand through her hair. Before the hand comes to rest on the table, she taps her frontal lobe, ever so gently, before glancing at Harry. "Harry you idiot! What have I told you about closing your mind!" Hermione wants to shake the boy, shake some sense into him. Looking back to her Professor, she notices the wolf-like smirk. It is going to be a trap. She turns to warn them, but she sees Black shake her head slightly with a sharp, well-known look sent her way. "I will make your life a living hell." is the unspoken message.
Torn, the decision is thankfully removed from her hands as the Headmaster rises to his feet. He steps up to the podium, the roar of the room falling to a quiet hum, as Dumbledore's presence always demands attention. A slight murmur rises from some of the tables until he raises his hand. Looks of confusion mingle with anticipation from student and teacher alike. They had only started back at school a week ago, so it was uncommon for the Headmaster to address the whole school. He would usually call an assembly if it were important news.
"Your attention, please," Dumbledore's voice booms in the hall. "As you are all aware, this is the fifth anniversary of the Riddle Championship, set by one of our most celebrated and successful students, Tom Riddle Jr. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Championship, we are proud to announce that Hogwarts will be hosting the festivities this year."
A gasp rings out and a few students begin to cheer. Ron explodes in applause with the other students, overly excited to compete in the games. Hermione ignores the slight sense of dread sneaking up on her. It was not as though she was going to enter. This wasn't something that interested her. Neville, who, until this point had stayed quiet, stirred. Hermione noticed the change in him immediately. Gone was the moping boy, replaced by a surprising eagerness.
"Settle down." Dumbledore chided the crowd good-naturedly. "As you are aware, anyone is allowed to enter the championship as long as they are in a team. A team of eight from each school may apply, or two teams of four. There will be six schools competing this year. Choose wisely who will be on your team, as only one person can win the Championships. Our own champion, Professor Black, wishes to say a few words." Dumbledore hands the stage to Professor Black, who elegantly stands up to the podium.
Black irises stare down at the students. Small gulps fill the room as the witch smirks. Professor Black is famed for far more than her intoxicating beauty. She was also the most cunning, wickedly talented witch to exit the championships. Black, a prodigy, even had audience with the Minister of Magic himself, Tom Riddle.
"Morning." The cold, crisp tone of her voice could make most students lose their appetite. "It wasn't long ago that I sat where you sit now. The Riddle Championships are designed to eliminate the weak from the strong. I see your excited eyes dart to your friends. Your friends will be your downfall. Your allies will stab you in the back in order to win the prize. These Championships will test your intelligence and that, for some of you, is already questionable. Your cunning, initiative, bravery, will all be put to the test. It will break you in every way possible, and single you down to your truest nature. If you do not win, you will most likely show that nature, not only to your friends, but the entire Wizarding world. Think wisely before entering. Are your friends worth more than your chance for fame and glory? Forty-eight will enter the championships. Only one can leave the winner. Vincit qui se vincit."
"Vincit qui se vincit." The crowd replies mechanically, staring in awe at the retreating witch.
"Thank you for your words of wisdom, Professor Black," Dumbledore announces cheerfully. "Signing for the Championships will last for two days. Choose carefully. Any teams wishing to enter, please see Professor Black. Any with questions, visit Professor McGonagall or Professor Snape. May Merlin give you luck."
As soon as Dumbledore returns to his chair, the room is alive with students talking. Even the teachers seem animated about the Championships.
"I completely forgot it was the Championships!" Ron gushes, slopping his drink onto the table. "This is bloody brilliant!"
"Will you enter, Harry?" Neville asks.
"I don't know." Harry murmurs.
"You gotta, mate, your dad won it, year after Black did. It's yours to win now."
"You don't have to enter if you don't want to, Harry. Your dad is proud of you regardless." Hermione interrupts Ron, hoping to dissuade her foolhardy friends.
"We'll see," Harry says gliding to his feet. "We better go to charms."
For the trio, the day passes rather slowly. Hermione finds herself alone in the library at lunch, searching through the Restricted section. She was allowed to read books from there, as Professor Black had signed her permit, stating she was doing actual research, not looking for cheap thrills. Chewing thoughtfully on a sandwich, her mind wanders to the upcoming championships, wondering just who might enter. Although the three Unforgivable curses were banned, people still died in the games. Whether from an accidental fall, a result of a duel, or sabotage from another contestant, people died in the games. They were becoming safer each year, but the odd student would take a fall from a platform, too quickly for any Professor to react. Sometimes a student would take the Championships too seriously and take out the competition outside of the levels, which usually was resolved quickly.
Sighing, Hermione massages her scalp, before realising the time and rushing towards DADA class. She arrives outside the door to find herself alone. Perhaps she was too early. Pushing the door open, she finds Professor Black behind her desk, flicking through paperwork. The Professor spares Hermione a quick glance before returning to her work. Taking that as her cue, Hermione sidles across to her usual seat. Moving so quietly Black has to look up to make sure the girl is in the classroom, she sets her books on the desk, in keeping with her usual, if OCD, behaviour.
"I must say, I'm surprised." Professor Black's voice makes Hermione start and turn towards her teacher.
"What about, Professor?" She asks, still upset over the Professor's earlier words. "Is it my homework?" Hermione wonders if she left something out.
"You don't know?" Black replies, leaning back in her chair and clasping her hands in front of her.
"Hermione!" Harry shouts, charging into the room like a bull. "She's in here, Ron!" He calls over his shoulder hastily, running up to Hermione's nearly organized desk, nearly upsetting her ink.
A breathless Ron appears in the door. "I told you, mate, she'd be early to class." Ron states between gasps for air.
"What's wrong?" Hermione questions, faintly amused by the whole affair, particularly Ron's wheezing, red faced appearance.
"Nothing's wrong, per se." Harry says scratching the back of his neck, an obvious sign of nervousness.
"We need a fourth member." Ron completes Harry's sentence sharing a look with his friend.
"For the championship?" clarifies Hermione. Both boys nod. "Then go get one."
"We did. We put your name down." Harry smiles sheepishly at the look of shock on Hermione's face.
"You did what?" Hermione demands, throwing her last textbook on the desk.
"We needed a fourth member, and then we were arguing with Malfoy and the…" Ron trails of at noticing Black walking round to the front of her desk.
"Finish that sentence Weasley." Black smirks at him.
Harry finished it for him hurriedly.
"Then… before we knew what was happening, Ron, being an idiot, said we already had a team and Draco asked why we weren't signing up and we signed you up as our fourth."
"What?" Hermione stares at her friends in disbelief. They signed her into the championships without her permission. "I have no interest in this."
"There's a surprise." Black whispers under her breath, as she crosses her arms. "Shall I presume, then, that these two idiots added you to their team as an unwilling participant?"
"Yes." Hermione agrees, sending her friends an angry glare.
"You do realise withdrawing your team means none of you will be able to enter as any other team?" Black reminds them.
"Hermione, please," Harry begs. "I don't often ask things of you."
"You ask things of me every day." Hermione grumbles.
"True, but this is important to me. My dad won the Championships. I want to have a chance to win, too."
"Harry, your dad may have won, but it also drove your dad and his best friends apart for the rest of their lives." Hermione reminds him gently. There was no way of ignoring the still-seething hate between the four former best friends. "It could tear us apart."
"Granger, am I removing your team or not? Once a team has been in the draw longer than an hour I can't remove it. There are rules."
"Hermione, please, just this once, we might not even be picked, there's loads of groups battling for this."
"I don't think you know what's involved, Harry." Hermione argues.
"Listen to the know it all, Potter, she is one for a reason." Black drawls.
"I know what's involved. I want to do this. It wasn't fair for Ron to add you without asking, but we need you, Hermione."
"How do you figure that?" Professor Black asks, Hermione can hear the humour in the witch's voice.
"Hermione's the smartest person I know. We need her. Without you, Hermione, we won't make it past the first round." Harry says smiling at his best friend.
"Yeah, 'Mione, you're the best man… er...woman for the job." Ron stumbles on his words.
"Even with Granger, you still won't get past the first round." Black advises them. "I'll remove your team from the draw."
"Wait!" Hermione stops the witch. "What do you mean with me they won't get past the first round?"
"Do I need to spell it out for you, Granger?" Is the arrogant reply. "No muggleborn has ever won the championships. You're wasting your time."
"We could win." Hermione grinds out, angry with the witch for thinking so little of her.
"You don't belong in that championship,"
"Hermione has as good a chance as any of us!" Harry defends her.
"Potter, taking a muggleborn in with you is not going to help you win."
"You can't discriminate against me because of my blood!" Hermione says pointing at the teacher.
"It's not just your blood Granger, I have been your DADA teacher for nearly six years. If there's anyone at Hogwarts who can safely say you're not ready for this, it's me."
"You don't know that." Hermione replies, not believing her Professor.
"In fact, I do. If you enter that championship, and if your team gets drawn, you will most likely die in there." There is no hint of any emotion in Black's voice. It's as though she were reading the dictionary. Everything was fact to the dark witch. "Now shall I remove your team? Save any further embarrassment?"
Hermione watches her Professor glide across the room to where the competitor's entrance forms were. "No." Hermione says boldly. "I'm not withdrawing. We're still in."
"Yes!" Both boys shout, high fiving each other.
"Foolish of you, Granger." Black hisses.
"We'll see who's right." Hermione replies, with just as much venom. "I may be many things, but I am not a coward and I am not someone who you can walk over."
A/n: Vincit qui se vincit - He conquers who conquers himself.