Summary: She falls in love with him when she's 12, but by the time she's 17 she wants him dead. For Tom Riddle, its visa versa. Tomione. M for a reason.

Hermione sees Tom Riddle when she is 12 years old, and she falls in love.

She doesn't meet him so much as sees him, tucked away in the far corner of the library, head boy badge pinned to his chest, a mountain of books at his side. He is hunched over a large tome, his long, pale fingers threaded through his dark hair, his other hand drumming impatient fingers against the wooden tabletop. It was late, far later than she was allowed to be out—but she certainly hadn't expected to see anyone out, much less the head boy.

He didn't see her—Harry's invisibility cloak insured that—only continued to read, his teeth working distractedly at his lower lip, his eyes scanning obsessively over the text. The books he was reading had to be from the restricted section because she had never heard of them before. The titles—as she allowed herself near enough to read the spines of the books stacked beside him—implied that it was certainly a bit dark, but also complicated and she—she was absolutely smitten.

It was kind of pathetic.

His jaw twitched. His fingers stopped their drumming on the table and he raised his chin to stare at the empty space in front of him with a strange expression on his face.

She fled.

It's a bit pathetic, she knows, but his combination of painfully beautiful and unbelievably intelligent had only been rumor to her until she stumbled upon him in that library.

It was childish infatuation, she would later realize. The same infatuation that left her fawning over Lockhart—although her beloved professor had fallen on the back burner in light of her new obsession. It was silly, it was even cute depending how you looked at it. She blushed when she saw him, she watched him during meals where he sat at the Slytherin table, she defended him when people would complain about him deducting house points.

She even—while hiding and waiting for the effects of a contaminated polyjuice potion to wear off—recognized his shoes in the girls bathroom where Myrtle would die the next hour.

"It's gotta be Malfoy," Ron sneered, eyeing the pale boy across the great hall during lunchtime.

"We have no way of knowing that, Ron," Hermione scolded, but she couldn't help but continue glancing toward the table, waiting for a sign that he was right. "We have no way of knowing that this is even deliberate."

"It's only been muggle-borns so far," Harry commented quietly, "Paralyzed in the hospital wing and no one knows why."

Hermione clenched her jaw for a moment, remembering Collin with his camera raised, frozen in that hospital bed. He had been the first victim—of what, no one knew. But it was terrifying not only as a student watching it happen, but as a muggle-born awaiting their fate. "But we don't know," She stressed, "We can't go accusing Malfoy of having something to do with this when we don't even know if it's orchestrated by anyone."

"He threatened you," Ron snapped, "He looked you in the eye and told you that you would be next!"

"Quiet down!" She hissed, glancing nervously at the Slytherin table, "All we know is that students have been petrified—muggle-born students," She corrected at Harry's sharp look, "But other than their petrification, there's been nothing. No message, no threats—other than Malfoy's," She adjusted at Ron's reddening face, "We can't get ahead of ourselves"

"We're worried, 'Mione." Harry said, his hand resting on her shoulder, "We want to stop this before anything happens to you."

"Believe me," Hermione laughed nervously, "So do I." She picked at the food on her plate, the discussion ruining her appetite. Purely out of habit she sought out her crush at the Slytherin table, and was surprised to see him staring unamused at the very boy they had been talking about. Malfoy was animatedly talking about something—loudly, it looked like, but she was too far away to hear—and Tom Riddle watched him with thinly veiled annoyance. It made her smile a bit to see he hated Malfoy, too.

"How can you think of Riddle at a time like this?" Ron sneered, and Hermione blushed to the roots of her hair.

"I'm not thinking of Riddle," She snapped. Ron rolled his eyes, "I'm not!"

"Riddle doesn't seem that bad," Harry defended her half-heartedly, his eyes still watching Malfoy, "My mom says that not all Slytherins are that bad."

"Yeah, well," Ron grumbled, "Right now I don't think any of them should be trusted."

Hermione knew he was probably right.

"I wish there was a way we could just…sneak in there and figure it out from the inside," Harry griped, pushing his plate away as he spoke. It seemed he had lost his appetite as well, but Ron continued to shovel forkfuls of food into his mouth as he nodded in agreement.

Hermione hesitated, drawing a finger across her lower lip as she thought, before she hurriedly gathered her things and stood, "I'll see you guys later,"

"Hermione wait!" Harry called, "We'll go with you!"

"I'm just going to the library," She assured, "I'll see you in class—I just have an idea." He nodded, his hand finding hers and giving it a comforting squeeze before letting her go.

"Try not to get too distracted if you see Riddle there," Ron spat, and Hermione glared at him with all the venom she could muster, then spun on her heel and left.

"Let off her," She heard Harry scold him, but she was too far away to hear the rest.

She did allow herself a glance at the Slytherin table before she left. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart started beating so wildly she could think of nothing to do other than scurry out of that hall like a clumsy fool.

Because at the moment she had glanced back, Tom Riddle had locked eyes with her.

It was pathetic, she knew, but her hands were shaking all the way to the library.

Polyjuice potion sounded easy enough to brew. The only problem was acquiring the ingredients. Snape certainly wasn't her biggest fan, so it wasn't as if she could charm them out of him. from what she could see when she watched Tom—and she watched him frequently—he had the ability to charm anyone he spoke to. Even Snape.

But, she had sworn not to think of Tom at the moment. There were more important things to do—like brewing polyjuice potion for Harry and Ron to sneak into the common room and figure out if Malfoy is guilty.

"We hardly need all three of us," Hermione had scoffed when the two boys arrived with the cloak, "If you give me the cloak I can go by myself."

"We're not letting you go out alone at night!" Ron admonished her, "Not with Malfoy out there!"

She rolled her eyes, but part of her was grateful for the company. It was admittedly terrifying, never knowing if she was safe or not. Never knowing what could happen, because it could be anything—a creature, a person, a spell—she had to look out for anything and everything as a danger.

She didn't even go to the library after hours anymore.

So they all crowded under the cloak and headed to the potions classroom, three pairs of feet shuffling quickly through the dark, empty corridors. Once in the classroom, Hermione shuffled through the shelves of vials, glancing between her piece of parchment with her ingredients scrawled on it and the labels on the shelves and drawers. Harry and Ron stood watch at the door.

"Shit," Ron swore—he was developing a sailors mouth, and normally Hermione would scold him for it, but at the moment she was only concerned with what was wrong, "Hermione we have to go."

"Who's there?" She heard a voice call out. She glanced wildly at the door and saw Ron's head popping out from the cloak. He gestured wildly.

"He heard you!" She hissed, shoving the last ingredient in the bag and handing it to him. "He already heard—you have to go! Take the ingredients, we can't risk losing them!"


She pulled the cloak down over his head just as the door to the front of the classroom opened, and Tom Riddle saw her standing in the doorway of the closet, her eyes wide and jaw slack.

"What are you doing?" He demanded. She hadn't realized it was him—you would think with all the attention she paid him she would recognize his voice, but the fact of the matter is she very rarely heard him speak. She was never close enough to hear. "What is your name?"

She was mildly offended that he didn't already know her name, but she knew she had no reason to be. "Hermione Granger," She murmured, fiddling with her skirt as his eyebrows rose in surprise.

"Miss Granger, come out from the supply closet, please." He asked politely, but it was quite obvious that it was an order. He still blocked the doorway, and she knew Harry and Ron wouldn't be able to leave until he did, so she obediently stepped out of the closet and shuffled toward him. He stared down at her disapprovingly and her cheeks burned.

"Did you take anything?" He asked. She shook her head. "Where are your friends?"

"In their beds, I imagine." She replied, staring down at his feet. He had nice shoes, but then most Slytherins did. In a house filled with pureblood aristocrat's children, they were often well dressed. Was Tom Riddle a pureblood aristocrat, she wondered?

"You expect me to believe you are wandering around the castle after hours, alone? In light of recent events?" He asked, quirking an eyebrow.

She didn't answer.

"Come, Miss Granger," He sighed, "I will escort you back to your common room."

"That is unnecessary," She resisted, her voice wobbling.

"It is for your safety, Miss Granger," He insisted in a low tone, and she had the strangest feeling come over her at the way his voice sounded. Her breath caught, her heart skipped a beat, but it was not in the way it usually did. She felt, oddly, afraid.

How strange, to feel afraid in the presence of the boy she was in love with.

She allowed him to walk with her down the hall.

She felt so small beside him—more than just physically. Of course she was tiny beside him. He was a man, after all, nearly graduated with broad shoulders long legs. She was only a child, her head barely reaching his chest. But more than the physicality, everything about him was domineering. She had always been called the brightest witch of her age, but beside him she felt foolish, she felt insignificant and weak.

So why, then, did she still look upon him with wonder?

She wrung her hands uncomfortably in front of her and hoped Harry and Ron had the ingredients back in the common room.

He didn't speak to her on the way back. When they reached the portrait that led to her common room, he deducted house points and scolded her thoroughly. She stared down at his shoes and said nothing. "Your friends should keep a closer eye on you," He said.

"I can take care of myself," She snapped, looking up at him.

He smiled cruelly at her. "Doubtful," He said, and in the pause before his next words there was something very strange and very dangerous in his gaze, "Don't let me catch you out after curfew again."

He left.

Harry and Ron were waiting for her in the common room, a bag filled with ingredients.

It took a month to brew the potion—hidden away in the girls bathroom that hardly anyone ever used, locked away in one of the stalls. It was unsettling, brewing the potion in there knowing that anyone could stumble upon it, but there was nowhere else to hide it. At least here they could lock one of the stalls and set up amateur wards to keep people away.

It worked, in the end.

Well, almost.

"Are you ready, Hermione?" Harry called from the other side of the bathroom door while Hermione stared—horrified—into her handheld mirror. No. No she absolutely was not ready.

"Go without me," She snapped, turning the mirror away so she didn't have to see her failure.

"What?" Ron scoffed, "What do you mean—?"

"Just go!" She insisted, "Something went wrong—go without me. Let me know what happens with Malfoy, and be careful! This will only last an hour."



She was humiliated.

She fumed inside that stall, stroking the whiskers on her face with disgust. Sat upon the toilet seat, she tucked her feet up on the off chance that anyone would come in. She thought of Harry and Ron with Malfoy.

Part of her hoped it wasn't him. Not for his sake—she hated him more than she had ever hated anyone she had ever met, and she wouldn't put it past him to be a evil, murderous bastard. But it was frightening, to become so involved in all of this.

But she was used to trouble, now. Their friendship had been forged in danger, after all, when they saved her from that Troll her first year—and in everything else they did together to reveal Professor Quirrell for the crazy asshole he was—desperate for recognition, he was willing to threaten every child in that school on the quest for the philosopher's stone.

So, naturally, they had reacted to the news of the petrification of the muggle-borns by throwing themselves into trouble once again.

She heard footsteps.

She wrapped her hands around her knees and held her breath, staring down at her furry hands before shifting her eyes to peer under the stall door from where she sat on the toilet. She held her breath, waited to whoever it was to use the toilet and leave.

But they didn't.

She watched in amazement as a pair of shoes—familiar shoes, shoes she remembered in pathetic vivid detail—tapped across the floor. She heard something strange and chilling—a voice but not a normal voice. It hissed and breathed and sent something cold through her while also exciting her—what was it? What language?

Something moved, stone on stone, like a boulder being pushed out of the way. She stayed perfectly still, focused on the fur that faded away, giving way for her skin.

When she was sure it was silent, she threw herself out of the stall to see no one there.

She felt unsettled, afraid, like she had just discovered something she never really wanted to know. Tom Riddle had entered the girls bathroom, said something in a foreign language, and disappeared.

She fled the toilet, nearly slamming into another girl on the way out. The girl—older than her, Ravenclaw, Hermione didn't know her—pushed past her into the bathroom and Hermione wondered for a moment if she should warn her, or—

She left.

That night Myrtle Warren was found dead in the girls bathroom.

While the rest of the school cowered in their rooms, and the professors fretted over the dead girl, Hermione hid in the library and researched. She wasn't allowed to be there.

It wasn't hard to figure out. After what she had seen and what she had heard—it had all laid itself out in front of her. She tore the page from the book, crumpled it in her hand and picked up her handheld mirror.

Tom Riddle found her, his dark eyes appraising her suspiciously. He was still so handsome, and so intelligent, and everything she had ever thought she wanted, but—

Could he really be responsible?

Could that truly have been him in that bathroom?

"Students are not allowed out of their rooms." He intoned. She hid the mirror behind her back so he wouldn't see it. He didn't notice the movement, instead examining her expression.

"I'm going back," She said, "I…I needed the distraction."

"Go." He ordered. She scurried past him.

She didn't see him pull the book she had just closed from the shelf. He flipped it open, ran his finger along the torn edge of the page she had ripped out, before swearing—loudly—and slamming the book shut.

He spoke in hisses and snarls to the empty library, his hands clutching the edge of the table so hard that his his fingers bled as his nails dug into the wood.

Hermione held her mirror up around a corner in the corridor, and the last thing she saw were two yellow eyes before something cold settled over her and it all went dark.

When Tom Riddle was figured out by a twelve-year-old…that's when he knew it was time to stop.

It had been exciting, at first. How could it be anything else? To discover his lineage and the power that came with it—it was incredible. It was exhilarating. And with every filthy mudblood that fell petrified, he felt the rush of adrenaline, the speeding of his heart at just knowing that it was him. And the one who died…

Well, that was an accident, admittedly, but an exciting accident nonetheless.

He had never seen someone die before. Had never had the chance to observe a dead body where it lay, to examine the paling of the skin and the emptiness of the eyes. He sat on that bathroom floor, trailed his fingers along her cooling skin, and…

He slipped his hand in his bag to let his fingers trail along the spine of his diary. It felt warm.

And then Hermione fucking Granger happened.

She was nothing but a child—a wide-eyed, arrogant, Gryffindor brat—and on top of that a mudblood. Yet she figured it out. Somehow, she wound up in that library the day after Myrtle died and—

It was in the way she stared at him. It wasn't filled with naive adoration, as it had been before, but now she gazed at him with a quiet distrust, a fear that wasn't there before. She grit her teeth and tensed her shoulders, and crumpled the paper in her hand.

She was supposed to die, he thought. She was supposed to die but here she was, petrified but otherwise very safe, because she had known.

If only he had noticed the damn mirror.

He sat beside her where she lay petrified on the hospital bed—he often did. Ever since the first night when he found the paper clutched in her tiny fist, he was a frequent visitor. It was pointless to visit her. The mandrakes were still growing and she wouldn't reanimated until they were ready. Hagrid was currently facing the consequences for Tom's actions. There was no reason to be here.

Yet…here he was.

He examined her. He examined the roundness of her cheeks, her small stature, the delicacy of her arm, stretched out in the way she had held her mirror. She was so young—so impossibly young, and yet she had outsmarted him. He had thought her to be nothing more than another one of his admirers. Damn it, he knew she was.

He had expected that to blind her. Maybe he hadn't been charming enough when he found her rummaging around in that potions supply closet, but—she was so irritating, so smart, he hadn't had the patience at the time to even pretend to entertain her fancy.

"Mr. Riddle!" The matron greeted when she saw him sitting next to the girl, "Back again?" He smiled genially at her but did not reply. "You must have been fairly close to Miss Granger, then?" She looked at him with something akin to pity.

"She is a bright witch," He replied, "And a nice girl. It isn't right what happened to her."

It wasn't right. She should've died.

"Once the Mandrakes are fully grown it'll be fixed," She assured.

He visited her nearly every day—obsessively. He usually made it seem like he was visiting all the students who were petrified, but anyone who cared to observe could see that his attention clearly favored the wild-haired witch. Sometimes, when he was alone, he could trace his fingers along the flesh of her throat, contemplate strangling her. He could kill her if he wanted.

He wouldn't, it would be much too obvious. But he could.

The only good thing that came out of this situation was the way Dumbledore would gaze at him with something other than thinly veiled suspicion while he sat beside her. It seemed he was of the impression that Tom was genuinely bothered by Miss Granger's state. He even seemed to buy into Tom's story of Hagrid's creature—or at least bought into Tom believing it.

Strange, how this girl who he hated so desperately was actually helping his image—at least concerning Dumbledore. He wondered how she would feel knowing that was the case.

When he graduated, he asked to stay. To teach. It was entirely unmotivated by the girl in the hospital wing but he couldn't help but want to be there when she awoke.

Dumbledore said no, anyway.

His last night in Hogwarts he spent only a little time by her side. She certainly wasn't important enough to him to waste his entire evening by. His fingers trailed along the skin of her arm, much like he had with Myrtle on the bathroom floor. The difference was Granger's skin was still ferociously warm, burning his fingers, reminding him of her survival.

Dumbledore walked in to see his hand on her arm, and in an uncharacteristically nervous reaction, he jerked his hand back and shifted in his seat. He hadn't meant for his hand to linger that long.

Dumbledore asked him to reapply in a few years, and Tom's eyes settled on Hermione before he replied.

"I will," He promised.

When Hermione was cured, the first thing she did was clench her fist in search of her paper and found it wasn't there.

"Did you find it?" She gasped when she finally saw Ron and Harry—who had both wrapped themselves around her the moment she was in their sight, "Did you see?"

"What are you talking about?" Ron asked. She noticed he wasn't in his uniform, and she wondered briefly how long she was out.

"About the basilisk." She clarified, but they both looked so confused. "The thing that petrified me,"

Harry looked at her oddly, "No, an acromantula. It was Hagrid's—you know the half giant? He was expelled, but Dumbledore has him working with the creatures now."

She didn't know anything about acromantulas. She would have to research that later. She had been so certain she was right, but…

"How long was I out for?" She asked.

"Well, a few months," He admitted, and Hermione's eyes practically bulged out of her head. "Yeah, but they're letting you stay over the summer to catch up on classes!"

She heaved a sigh, rubbing tiredly at her eyes.

"Bloody Riddle was at your bedside nearly every day, you'll be happy to know," Ron spat.

Something cold settled in her chest. "What?" She breathed.

"Yeah," Harry agreed, "He was here all the time. I think he was checking on the other students, too." He looks uneasy despite his explanation. Hermione felt baffled. A part of her, the part that still felt warm at the thought of him, rejoiced at the attention.

A part of her, the part that still felt that what she thought she knew had to be right—the basilisk, the bathroom, Tom—felt afraid at what his sudden attentions could mean.

She comforted herself with the knowledge that he had graduated now—he was gone.

He was gone.

How could she have known he would be back?

The next few years of Hermione's life were entirely uneventful.

They were exciting, surely, in the way anyone else's teenage years were exciting. She fell in love with Victor Krum (before Ron ruined it all), she continued with her title of brightest witch of her age.

She put the whole Tom Riddle debacle behind her.

In all her research on acromantulas there was nothing she could find to link that sort of creature to the yellow eyes that petrified her in the reflection of that mirror. Nothing to explain the strange hissing language that led to Riddle's disappearance in the bathroom before Myrtle's death.

In fact, she had acquired a book on ancient magical languages and she discovered he must be speaking parseltongue. It was an incredibly rare language—thought to be extinct, in fact. Hereditary, impossible—or nearly impossible, for she hesitated to refer to any skill as impossible—to learn if you aren't born with it. The book seemed to think it was only descendants of Slytherin, but the book seemed to think many things that sounded strange.

Alright, admittedly, the Tom Riddle debacle was not behind her.

In fact, it nearly consumed her sometimes.

Even now, about to go into her final year, and she was still searching for explanations.

He was guilty, obviously. He had framed poor Hagrid to save his own skin—he killed Myrtle (who now haunted that very bathroom), he even tried to kill her.

He tried to kill her!

And then he spent every night (allegedly) by her side in the hospital wing, most likely mourning the fact that he missed his chance.

He was so strange, she mused. He sets about killing muggle-borns in the school (or trying to, with only one success), attempts to kill her, fails, and spends every night with her as if…as if he's in love with her or something.

She hasn't deluded herself into thinking he was, of course. She was twelve at the time. But it still seemed so odd…

He had taken the paper from her, she guessed. Taken any evidence she had against him and framed someone else.

It didn't matter anyway. It shouldn't matter. She shouldn't be so obsessed with him—it's like she never grew out of her crush, only let it morph into something darker, something more academically based than emotional.

He drove her to the restricted section a lot.

She spent hours searching for the titles of the books she had seen when she first saw him hunched over those dark novels. It was impossible. She had only found one—and it was horrible. Not even horrible for the dark magic it contained, but horrible in the fact that it was so terribly written that it gave her a headache every time she looked at it.

"Hermione!" A voice interrupted, and she had been so deep in her thoughts that she violently jumped and slammed her head into the compartment window. The intruder laughed at her pain. "Whoa," Ginny snickered, "You zoned for a bit."

"Yeah," Hermione grumbled, rubbing her head. Ginny entered the compartment, followed closely by Harry and Ron and—ugh—Lavender. "It happens a lot."

"We know," Harry teased, and she sent him a withering look. His Head Boy badge hung proudly on his chest.

"Following in your parents footsteps," She commented, and he grinned broadly.

"Yeah, I don't get my future wife as my Head Girl, though." He joked, "Just some know-it-all"

She scowled, but gave way to a smile when he laughed. "Be thankful you didn't get stuck with…Pansy Parkinson or something."

Ron laughed loudly, "As if Pansy Parkinson would ever get the place over you." He joked. Her cheeks burned.

"I'm so excited for this year," Lavender gushed, "Our last year at Hogwarts! Do you know the new Defense teacher?"

No one was sure. It was a role that changed every year—each teacher more terrible than the last. "As long as we don't have another psychopath like Umbridge." Hermione grumbled.

"She got arrested." Ginny commented, eyeing Hermione meaningfully. She knew how much she despised that woman.

"Arrested?" Hermione echoed, "How could she get arrested? She was the Ministry."

"Yeah," Lavender joined in, "I heard the Malfoys came out about her…you know…"

"Corporeal punishment?" Hermione prompted, rubbing her thumb over the back of her hand. Lavender nodded.

"Malfoy?" Ron sneered, "Malfoy got none of it! He was her fucking lap dog!"

"That's just what I heard," Lavender commented, "Anyway, what a Malfoy wants a Malfoy gets."

Hermione actually managed a laugh at that—which was unusual, because most of what Lavender said annoyed her, "Well, for once I approve of what a Malfoy wants." She joked.

"I heard our defense teacher is handsome this year," Lavender sighed, "I can't wait to meet him."

"Oi," Ron nudged her shoulder with his and Lavender beamed at him, pecking him quickly on the lips. Hermione felt suddenly ill.

"Gotta be old, though," Ginny commented.

"I've heard he's young," Harry said, "I don't know much else, but I heard he's the youngest professor they've had in a long time."

Hermione hummed thoughtfully. It would be interesting to meet him—if he was young, he would certainly be intelligent. She only hoped he wasn't arrogant, whoever he was.

Young, intelligent men so often were.

She excused herself to the toilet when Ron and Lavender started canoodling. It was bad enough that she was fifth-wheeling in there, but she was fifth wheeling while in love with one of the taken men.

This whole thing with Ron was so exhausting—she just wished she could get over it.

Her thoughts—as they often did when she considered crushes—turned back to the darker side of her past. Strange, that he was her dark side—she had hardly anything to do with him, but he still had so much impact on her life. There were a lot of dark spells that should would likely know nothing of if it weren't for him.

She knew the term Horcrux because of him—because of the books he was reading in the library.

He hadn't disguised them, which was strange to her. She supposed he couldn't be bothered to charm the titles while he was alone in the library—and if she had come in without the cloak he likely would have cast the charm immediately.

She still remembered how attractive he was. She remembered the way the sun would highlight the sharpness of his cheekbones whenever it caught him, the way his hair was always perfectly swept back from his forehead. He was so desperately handsome—and so darkly intelligent. She wished she could have met him after the fact—after she knew. But then he probably would have killed her. If he killed Myrtle—an innocent girl who knew nothing—what was stopping him from killing her—the know-it-all?

She saw a tall, broad shouldered figure disappearing into a compartment and her heart skipped a beat. Great. She was seeing him everywhere now. Her mind was so fixated on him that she was hallucinating.

She planned on peeking in the window of the cabin as she walked by—just to be sure—but she was slightly distracted by the pale-haired boy exiting from another compartment.

She scowled at his horrendous smirk.

"Mudblood," He greeted pleasantly. "Have a pleasant summer slumming it with the muggles?"

She couldn't keep herself from replying. "Not as pleasant as yours." She commented, "Heard you got Umbridge thrown in prison."

"I thought you'd be grateful." He sneered down at her as she neared him.

"Grateful?" She scoffed, "To be grateful would imply you did it for me." He scowled at her. She found his non response more unsettling than his usual cutting replies. She pushed past him in the corridor.

"Have you heard of the new Defense teacher?" He asked as she passed. She hesitated, glaring at him warily. Her curiosity was getting the better of her.

"No one seems to know much," She commented, "I suppose you whined loud enough to get an answer."

He smirked wickedly, "He and my family are close," He commented, crowding her. He leered down at her, but she refused to show that she was uncomfortable. "He has a thing for mudbloods, apparently." He sneered.

She glared. "Get away from me," She demanded when she found she couldn't slip away because of how closely he had crowded her.

"I can only imagine the things he'd do to you," He purred, staring down his nose at her, "Bet he could make you forget all about Weasleby—"

She shoved him into the opposite wall so hard his head it with a loud, resounding thwack.

"Ow—fucking mudblood!" He swore.

"You're lucky I didn't punch you in the face!" She snapped. His eyes flashes furiously at her but he didn't move against her—likely because he knew she meant it. She had done it before, after all, and there was nothing stopping her from breaking his nose again.

"You should watch yourself," He threatened as she carried on down the hall. She flipped him off.

When she returned to the compartment the first thing she said was, "Draco knows the new professor."

"Shit," Harry groaned, "He's going to be another Snape."

Hermione didn't know what to say. She sat down and feigned sleeping for most of the train ride to Hogwarts.

Something ominous settled over her.

The new defense teacher wasn't at the opening feast.

They didn't meet him until their class.

They didn't meet him until they were already seated and ready for the class.

Hermione didn't realize Tom Riddle was the new defense teach until she was staring him down from the front row of the classroom.

He leaned against his desk, the very picture of ease, and locked his eyes onto hers. "Good morning," He greeted the class.

She was feeling all sorts of conflicting emotions.

She stayed behind when class ended.

He dismissed the class and dimly she heard the students packing up their things and heading out. Harry called her name and she waved him off and he left—as if she wasn't in danger, as if she wasn't about to allow herself to be alone with a murderer.

But then he didn't know. She had never told him.

She didn't move from her desk, she hadn't even put her things away into her bag. She remained exactly where she was, examining him as he collected his papers on his desk.

"Can I help you, Miss Granger?" He hadn't turned around.

She swallowed thickly, unable to respond right away. Her hesitation prompted him to face her again. He raised a single eyebrow and leaned against his desk, observing her.

Neither spoke, for a moment.

"I know," She said, confused. "You know that I know."

His lips quirked. "And what do you know."

"You know" She stressed.

"You're being purposefully vague," He observed, crossing his arms across his chest as he regarded her.

"You tried to have me killed," She snapped, and once she did he raised his wand to shut the door of the classroom. "Are you here to finish the job?"

"You think I'm here to kill you?" He asked, sounding amused.

"No," She admitted, leaning back in her chair. "I doubt you would wait five years and then return for the sole purpose of killing me, but that doesn't mean you won't just do that while you're here."

His eyes burned, even in the dim lighting of the classroom. Neither moved. "You've grown." He commented, his words holding more weight than she expected.

"Are you going to do it again?" She asked, then after a pause, clarified, "The Basilisk."

"Would you stop me if I did?" He mocked. She pursed her lips and didn't answer, unsure if she should. A slow smile stretches across his face, and he slowly approached her. He squatted on the floor across from her, folding his arms atop her desk and resting his chin. He regarded her for a moment, his eyes gliding across her face and her hair, down her neck.

"I was going to wait until you graduated," He admitted, his eyes fixed on her throat. "But Dumbledore insisted I return this year." His eyes flicked up to meet hers, "I wonder why."

"I couldn't possibly imagine," She intoned. Her eyes had fixed themselves on his mouth and she didn't realize it until he had already noticed. He smiled.

"You'll be late for class." He warned.

She nodded, gathered her things, and left.

Dumbledore had insisted.

He had insisted, Professor Riddle said.

Why the bloody hell had he insisted?

She had taken to watching them during lunchtimes, and she felt like she was twelve years old again, desperately seeking out the object of her affection and wishing above everything else that they would glance back. She didn't really want him to glance back now, however. Really she would've preferred him bursting into flames.

And Dumbledore…well she wasn't sure what she wanted him to do. It was useless to examine him—he had never expressed any interest in her and would continue not to do so, she was certain. It wasn't like Harry, whom he obviously had a soft spot for. He appreciated Hermione as a student but constantly held her at arms length.

And then he insists that Professor Riddle come back this year instead of next.

It couldn't have anything to do with her. It was possible they had no one else for the job, but that was unlikely given the coveted position Riddle now had. He was intelligent, of course, and incredibly charismatic as a teacher, and his lectures were incredible. But he was so young—it was unlikely that he was more qualified than anyone else who would apply for the position, so—why?

Why him? Why now?

"So you're back on your bloody Riddle obsession, then?" Ron grumbled across from her. She snapped her attention back to her friends, meeting Ron's annoyed glare. She wanted to tell him. She wanted to explain everything, to tell them everything she hadn't told them her second year, everything she knew now about the man they thought she was so in love with.

But something stopped her. Before she could let those secrets spill, she locked her lips shut. Had he done something to her, she wondered?

Her eyes snapped back to Riddle. Had he cursed her into silence?

"Mione," Ron groaned when her attention shifted back to her professor. She forced her attention back to him, offering him an apologetic smile.

"Sorry," She said, "Just…lost in thought, sorry." He glared at her while she poked around at her food with her fork.

"Yeah, along with every other girl in this bloody school," He grumbled. "He's not that great."

"That's not what I was thinking about," She assured. Ron stared at her disbelievingly, "It isn't." She insisted. He rolled his eyes. "I mean it."

He shrugged dismissively, "Whatever, Hermione. We get it. You have a type."

She gaped at him. "A type?" She glanced at Harry who was looking between the two of them with nothing less than exhaustion, "What does that mean?"

"There was Riddle second year," He listed, "Then Victor Krum," She narrowed her eyes, quite clearly remembering Ron's reaction to Hermione attending the ball with Krum, "You have this…thing for tall, dark, and handsome."

She glared at him fiercely, feeling this conversation spinning a bit out of her comfort zone. She didn't want to talk about her perceived attraction to Tom Riddle—he tried to kill her. She didn't want to talk about him at all.

And she didn't have a thing for tall, dark, and handsome—she had a thing for Ron!

"Professor Riddle was a childhood crush," She defended, "I don't feel that way about him. He's my professor."

"Then why did you stay behind after class?" He snapped, "Must be your…dream or something, to get with a professor. Imagine the guaranteed grade."

She gaped at him, reaching out to grab his fork as he shoveled food in his mouth and throw it away from the table. "You know what, Ron?" She growled, "Why don't you go complain to Lavender."

He stared at her in shock—as if her getting in the way of his meal was somehow more offensive than him implying she wanted to fuck her professor for a good grade. When he didn't move, she picked his plate up and threw that to the ground too, unaware in her anger that she was making a scene. "Go!" She ordered.

"Fine!" He stood up and stormed to the other end of the table where Lavender was glancing over with worry. She smiled when he reached her side, kissing him on the cheek and running her thumb across the angry frown lines around his mouth. Hermione turned her eyes away.

Harry's hand settled over hers calmingly. "He's only worried," He said, "The way Riddle obsessed over you after you were petrified…It's weird that he's back. We thought we'd seen the last of him when he graduated, you know?"

"He had no right to imply—" She began, and Harry's hand moved so his arm rested comfortably around her shoulders.

"I know." He agreed, "I think he knows that, too. He'll feel awful about it later,"

"Good." She grumbled, resting her head on his shoulder.

"Are you alright, though?" He pressed, "He hasn't…I mean, has he…?"

She didn't understand what he was implying. She didn't move her head from where it rested, but ask calmly, "Did who do what?"

"Riddle," He clarified, "Has he…tried anything?"

She tensed. Why was Harry asking if he had tried anything? The answer was no, so far, but it certainly wasn't set in stone. Did he know? Of course he didn't, she disregarded the thought. If he knew about Tom's involvement with the death of Myrtle and her own petrification, he would have gone straight to Dumbledore—exactly what she didn't do.

"What do you mean?" She asked carefully.

He pushed her away so he could meet her eyes but kept his arm around her to communicate that he didn't want this to sound like an interrogation, "Your second year…" He began, hesitating briefly, "He got really obsessed with you. And now that he's back…and you're grown…I mean, you're not a kid anymore, 'Mione, and…"

She balked. Was he implying he thought Professor Riddle was pursuing her sexually?

"No!" She shook her head, and her shock at the question was perfectly genuine—genuine enough for Harry to sigh with relief, "No, absolutely not." She repeated.

"Alright," Harry nodded, "You know if he does, you can just—just go to Dumbledore and Riddle will be out in a second."

She frowned but nodded in agreement anyway. She didn't have the blind faith in Dumbledore that Harry had. She didn't believe he would kick Riddle out after he had apparently insisted for him to be here in the first place.

"Alright, Harry," She agreed.

When her eyes traveled back to the Professor's table, for the first time in all her months of watching him, she found Tom Riddle's eyes fixed on her.

She snapped her eyes back to the table and excused herself to the library.

The next few months were quiet.

She had worried, after seeing him watching her so intently, that it would become a regular occurrence. But, as it turned out, he was just as reserved with her as he was with everyone else. And it went both ways.

Hermione didn't stay after classes to speak with him, she didn't glance at him during meals, she didn't speak about him to anyone and would dutifully avoid the subject if he ever came up. And he didn't look at her, didn't speak to her, didn't even call on her in class unless he had no other options (similar to Snape, she realized with a scowl)

But that didn't mean she stopped thinking about him.

She would spend hours in the library researching everything she could to better understand what had occurred her second year. She knew it had to be a basilisk—nothing about an acromantula made sense—and she knew it had to be making its way around through the pipes. As for its home, she had a slightly far fetched theory—could it be that Slytherin's chamber of secrets was not merely a myth?—but that theory opened up so many strange possibilities that she worked her way very carefully around it.

If it was the chamber of secrets, and Tom Riddle controlled the basilisk…He had to have access to the chamber. But Slytherin was paranoid and suspicious and would never allow anyone but him to have access to somewhere as sacred as that. Only him and, perhaps…

But it was far fetched, wasn't it, to assume a relation? Surely parseltongue wasn't confined only to Slytherin's bloodline? Although, Riddle certainly sounded like a muggle name…

She had to cancel out any other possibilities before she could assume that he was the heir of Slytherin, carrying on his legacy to purge Hogwarts of muggleborns.

Well, half of that she already knew was true, it was only the first half she was unsure about.

"Studying, Mudblood?" A familiar drawl interrupted, and she pinched the bridge of her nose, "You'll need all the help you can get for exams, what with your…disadvantage."

She knew he was referring to her so-called dirty blood, but his claims were so outrageous she could do nothing but hold her hand up in confusion and say, "My grades have always been better than yours."

He sneered down at her from where he leaned against the bookshelf, and she felt a flash of anger at him for invading her safe place and contaminating it with his horrid personality. "Well," He began nastily, "There's other ways to get a grade."

She breathed harshly through her nose. Why was everyone accusing her of sleeping with her professors? "Did you need something or do you simply enjoy being an irritant?"

"Just wondering how you're still here," He commented casually. It caught her attention, not because of what he said—he was always wondering at how someone with such dirty blood could still be latching onto this school like a parasite—but because of the way he regarded her when he said it. Like he knew something she didn't.

She vaguely remembered their conversation on the train. A conversation that she had originally brushed off as Malfoy just being an arsehole, but in light of Tom Riddle's professorship, she was wondering exactly how much he knew about this whole situation.

He wouldn't tell her, of course.

Unless she could make him angry enough.

She leaned back in her chair, turning her attention from her favorite novel—Hogwarts: a History—and regarded him cooly. He sensed the change in atmosphere, and his body shifted into a position that seemed a bit more defensive.

"I think you know why I'm still here," She stated boldly. He smirked, crossing his arms in front of him.

"I don't think I know anything about that," He replied dubiously, and just to be cruel, added, "Mudblood."

"I'm beginning to think you don't know anything about anything," She deadpanned, and he actually had the audacity to laugh at her.

"Oo-hoo!" He raised his eyebrows at her, "Feisty little mudblood."

"You might want to come up with different insults," She parried, "It's getting a bit boring." She tried to reign in her temper. She was supposed to be making him angry, not the other way around.

"You won't be around long enough for me to use them," He threatened.

She arranged her expression into something calm, and said, "Is that what you think?"

"It's what I know."

"Because of Professor Riddle?" She pressed, crossing her legs in front of her in what she desperately hoped what nonchalance.

He sneered, but didn't seem necessarily unhappy that she knew the actual topic of their conversation "You always were a snotty know-it-all," He commented, as if he hadn't expected her to bring him up.

"If he is planning on killing me," She paused, "Why has he waited so long?"

He seemed uncomfortable now that the subject of Riddle was brought up, and uncomfortable was never good for spilling secrets. If she learned anything after years of putting up with Malfoy's bullshit, it was that anger could be manipulated, but making him uncomfortable only ever ended up in a fight.

She barreled on, hoping to say something that would incite his rage, "I think that if he ever planned on killing me, he doesn't want to now. And I think you hate that—you hate that he may actually want to keep someone like me around, even when you think I deserve to die—"

"I don't know what you're talking about," He snapped, and he was afraid. Her brow furrowed as she examined him. She could see it in the way he paused and licked his lips, the way his fingers twitched at his sides, the way his eyes darted from her to the floor and back. And it baffled her because, if she was correct in her research—and she was rarely wrong—then Tom Riddle should be hell bent on destroying all muggleborns, and Malfoy should be in no danger. He had told her on the bus that his family was close to Riddle, had he not? So why the fear?

She narrowed her eyes. "I'm still alive…because he likes me." She surmised, and Malfoy grit his teeth, "At least, he likes me better alive than dead. That's why he hasn't offed me yet. He wants me alive. But you—"

"You don't know anything," He snapped, pulling out his wand. She sprung to her feet, her wand coming out to rival his. Neither cast a spell yet.

"He doesn't care about you," She pushed, "He would kill you in a heartbeat and you can't figure out why he would rather kill you than a filthy mudblood—"

He cast a curse that she barely managed to shield herself from, and she was shocked at the animosity behind the spell.

"Expelliarmus!" Both their wands flew from their hands. "Mr. Malfoy," A familiar baritone called, "Go wait in my office. We'll have our conversation there."

"M-My—" Whatever he was about to say was halted by Professor Riddle harsh glare. Hermione watched him warily and wondered what he had heard. Malfoy scurried out of the library with his tail between his legs, leaving his wand behind.

Tom Riddle didn't speak. He regarded her with a glare that she couldn't quite understand the fire behind. She backed away from him as he advanced until she was pressed against the wall of books. He paused by the desk she was working at, his fingers gliding thoughtfully over the page she was open to—the section about the Chamber of Secrets, she realized with a shot to her chest—and his fingers curled into a fist hovering over those pages.

His burning gaze shifted suddenly to meet hers.

She clenched her jaw.

"You've been digging," He commented. She wasn't sure if he was referring to the book on the table or her conversation with Malfoy or something else entirely, and the fact that she had no idea what he knew unsettled her. She couldn't think of what to say.

So she said nothing.

She examined him from where she stood pressed against the book shelf and tried to figure out how much of the conversation he had heard, but if he had heard anything, he didn't show. She hadn't even gotten to the good part. If she had only a few more moments she probably could've actually figured out if anything she had bluffed was true.

Then again, that was probably why he broke it up.

He held both hers and Malfoy's wands in one hand, pocketing them inside his robes as he regarded her. He took a step toward her and she had nowhere to go.

"You were goading him," He observed, his voice lower than usual in the quiet of the library—she hadn't realized how loud her and Malfoy were, and she was surprised Madam Prince hadn't heard and intervened—the sound was breathy and raspy. Not at all like the usual silken baritone that filled the room. It was unsettling only because of how much she liked the sound of it when he spoke like that. "A very Gryffindor approach. You might have been better off seducing him, he is quite obsessed with you and Mister Potter."

She frowned thoughtfully, "He seems to think you are quite obsessed with me." She murmured. He eyed her in what she perceived was amusement. "He wonders why you haven't killed me."

"I suppose you are wondering as well," He was closer now. He had been slowly advancing as they spoke and within this simple exchange he had already come within a meter. She started to press herself tightly against the shelves but stopped herself in time. Instead she attempted to appear nonplussed.

"I figure its inevitable," She intoned, her eyes falling to stare at his shoes as he closed in on her, "I don't wish to dwell on my unavoidable demise,"

"No, we both know that's not true," He murmured, and she had no way of knowing if he was referring to her comment on the inevitability of her death or the fact that she didn't wish to dwell on it. Either way, she kept her eyes trained on his shoes until his toes practically touched her own. He was standing so close. Was this some sort of intimidation tactic?

"If that's all professor, I would like my wand back."

"Look at me."

She did. Calmly, she lifted her eyes to meet his and leveled his heavy gaze with her own steadfast one. She wouldn't allow him to intimidate her. He already held power over her in his very position as professor—she wouldn't allow him to hold power over her here.

The library was hers.

"I would like my wand back," She repeated. His lips quirked and her eyes were drawn to the movement, but by the time they focused on his mouth it had fallen back into a straight, unamused line. When she raised her eyes to his again, they seemed different somehow. "Malfoy will be waiting for you."

"I will deal with Malfoy," He assured, reaching into his robe pocket to draw out her wand. She wrapped her fingers around it, but he hadn't let go. He examined her for a long time, still holding one end of her wand. "It would be in your best interest to focus on your studies, Miss Granger," He finally said, his voice a deep, resigned rumbling in his chest. His words held a threat.

"And if I can't?" She asked. "If I'm distracted?"

His hand—the one that wasn't holding onto her wand, refusing to give it to her—moved to grip her hair, pulling her head back against the shelves. Her breath hitched, her free hand reaching up to grip at his forearm, her nails digging into his sleeve. "I have allowed you your curiosity thus far," He hissed, his voice sounding dangerously similar to the tone that she had overhead in the girls bathroom all those years ago. And part of her, the part of her that lived without sense or logic, it yearned to hear it again—to hear him speak in a language she could only learn from him. "Do not test my mercy,"

"I wouldn't dream of it," She spat, and as quickly as his hand had wound through her hair, he pulled back. He stepped away from her, relinquishing her wand, and she raised her fingers to soothe the back of her head. She glared at him with all the vicious tenacity she could muster. "Am I free to leave, professor?"

He nodded once, and she brushed past him to slam her book shut and take it with her out of the library—out of her secluded studying corner, past Madam Prince who eyed her as she left. She fled down the corridor and made her way straight to the common room.

Tom Riddle thought he could intimidate her into silence, but his viciousness only spurred her to action.

She had to find Harry and Ron.

hhahahaha okay


This is going to be about three (maybe four) chapters long? Let me know if you like it so far, and I'll finish up the next chapter! I know there's nothing M yet, that comes sort of next chapter and especially chapter 3

Please let me know what you think! (Also let me know if there's any strange typos for real because im a shit proof-reader sometimes tbh)