Hermione Granger would never get used to ruling.

From the moment she sold her soul to the devil in her living room, she knew she could never get used to this amount of power. It felt wrong to wield it—it felt dirty and tangible in her hands, like some tiny, sentient being desperate to corrupt her, desperate to persuade her to some dark side of ruling—desperate to turn her into something more like Tom.

But the moment she allowed that to happen, she knew the world would turn from some barely peaceful state to one of total war and ruin. Tom would let the world burn if it suited his interests. Tom didn't care for the gentler side of humanity as she did. Tom didn't care about much at all, in fact.

So she strangled the little thing in her hands, smothered it until it couldn't whisper in her ear at night anymore, until she scarcely realized it was still present, squirming in her hands. She told herself she held no power, that she was no different than the girl who had graduated from Hogwarts all those years ago. Even at the side of the man they called Lord—though she refused to be called Lady—she reminded herself that they were one wrong move away from losing it all.

It kept her grounded. It kept her sane. And—most importantly—it kept her good.

Her idea of right and wrong, of good and evil, had become so complicated and overthought that she could hardly understand it anymore. Her original list had become overrun with footnotes detailing exceptions to the rules, crossing out and rewriting and replacing things that were once good and now bad, that were once evil and now good. There were some things that never changed—Hermione never took a life. And when she could, she wouldn't allow those around her to take a life either. She never abused her power—never took advantage of those with less power than her simply because she could.

Tom Riddle did, of course, at every opportunity. And he killed, of course, whenever it suited him. And he did, of course, fit perfectly into that little box she had labeled evil as a child, but now—

Part of her knew that this was a prime example of cognitive dissonance—Of knowing that there is a gap between what she does and what she knows is right, and so she desperately tries to offer reasons for this discrepancy.

If he had been left to his own devices, she was certain it would be worse. Muggleborns, for example, would either have been exterminated or kept as slaves—much like House elves had been (and still were, if she were honest, but she had to listen to what they wanted and work around that). He wouldn't have cared for equal opportunity for Werewolves, or for fair work and pay for House Elves, or for anything other than stroking his own ego by allowing himself all the power and torturing anyone who stood against him to prove it.

But then, he probably would have lost the war if it weren't for her, so she had to wonder if she played a more sinister role in this new world order, regardless of her noble intentions.

She had built most of his army, after all. All he was before was a strong, powerful, charismatic man with a way with words and a passion that was contagious. But that was all. She offered him a cause—she offered those who may have sided against him a chance for utopia. She drew in the underdogs, the downtrodden, the lonely and forgotten, and she promised them salvation. She found, in some moments, that she would speak to these people who she promised to fight for and would feel very much like Tom for a moment—caught up in the passion of her movement—the one she had dreamed of ever since she had become aware of the magical world.

That was most likely why she began altering her idea of good and bad. Because surely it was bad for Tom Riddle to torture the Malfoys into offering their elves clothing to set them free, so that they could join their cause without worry of turning against their masters. Surely it was wrong for Tom Riddle to threaten and blackmail and hurt the purebloods that would otherwise stand against them—but it worked.

And she had very little patience for the bigoted, anyway.

In the end, it was thanks to Hermione's bleeding heart—as Tom so often referred to it as—that they were gifted with a formidable army. And it was thanks to her bleeding heart that they had the aurors on their side.

Convincing James and Sirius—convincing all of her friends, really, but especially those linked to the ministry—had been difficult at first. Even harder when Tom's face inevitably got out and they suddenly knew that Tom Riddle was not dead, as she had originally claimed, and was very much alive and at the head of the cause she begged them to join.

Yes, it had certainly been difficult, especially when they knew her to be a liar.

But Remus had joined. Partly because of bribery, she assumed, because one thing she strived to provide was Wolfsbane for those who wanted it—and of course he did—and partly because she promised things that he likely hadn't dreamed of attaining since he was first bit.

He wasn't an auror with his friends because of what he was—because of something that he couldn't help being—and that was something that had always disgusted Hermione. It was something she promised to change, should they win.

And then, it wasn't long before his friends joined him as well—and then, after, her friends as well. It didn't change the fact that, to this day, Harry still doesn't believe everything she says simply at her word, but they're alive, and she didn't have to fight them, and that's all she can rightly ask for. Sometimes, she feels like they're all just waiting—waiting with wands clenched in their fists, with spells tucked under their tongues, ready to fight when it all falls to pieces. Waiting for Tom Riddle to inevitably turn against them. But then, she sometimes feels as if she's waiting, too. Waiting for it all to come crumbling down around her.

But, a year has passed since their victory, and it hasn't happened yet. She clings to the hope that it won't happen soon, either. Instead she would remain on the precipice of what could be a newer and greater society, or its downfall.

And it was a fine line.

Tom couldn't be changed, of course. For all of Dumbledore's faith, in the end, Voldemort would remain every bit as vicious and cruel as he was the day he tortured her in his classroom, but as Hermione was coming to understand, his viciousness could be curbed, and at times, redirected. She had to be careful of her own anger around him, because he would take it and exacerbate it as much as he could.

She made the mistake of fuming about the French Minister—who was a sexist, ignorant douchebag—and she had found him within an inch of his life in their bedroom.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She asked, rushing to the minister—who spat blood at her, spitefully—and healing him.

"You care?" Tom asked her disbelievingly, "I seem to remember you loathing this man."

"Of course I loathe him!" She snapped, brushing Tom's hands away from her when he tried to pry her off his prey. "But you can't torture anyone that you—"

"Would it appease you to know he was preparing for war with us?" He asked, pointedly fixing his cold gaze on the man in question.

It hadn't, but it had at least appeased her worry that he had done it entirely for her. She didn't want to live with the worry that anyone she ever complained about would be killed.

They obliviated him, in the end, but she was certain the nightmares would remain.

He reminded her often, of his more monstrous tendencies. He delighted in it—in reminding her of the horrible things he did, the horrible things he enjoyed doing. In the aftermath of battle and in the aftermath of torture and murder he was the most amorous, his nails biting into her skin and his breath fanning across her throat as he rasped that she was so righteous, that she was so good. She thinks it was some sort of kink of his: Corruption. He liked the thought of corrupting her—or, if at some point she was incorruptible, to at least know that she had been corrupted enough to still have him.

Sometimes she hated it only because she liked it so much. Sex with him was always dirty, it was always rough and desperate and the never-ending push and pull of what's right and wrong tearing her apart until the only thing she can be sure of is the way it feels when his fingers slide between her legs or his lips latch onto her shoulder or his teeth carve patterns around her throat. She hates it because she needs it and she hates it because he needs it to.

But its the aftermath she loves.

When he is spent and tired and his body is limp—wrapped around her, or lying beside her, or on top of her, or below her—when his breath is shaky and his fingers trail unintelligible patterns across her flushed skin. When his eyes, half-lidded and hazy, dance across her face and down her throat. When she can wrap herself around him, still lingering in her climax, still only thinking half-thoughts, and she can feel him without thinking too much or thinking too little—without wondering if she is damned for loving him or if he's saved for wanting her.

In the aftermath she loves him, and it isn't painful to admit.

"Are you alright?" Harry's voice interrupted her distracted musings, and she snapped back into reality. He sat beside her on the Weasley's overstuffed sofa, watching her concernedly. Ginny sat across from them, laughing with their other guests, heavily pregnant. Hermione had become so hopelessly lost in her thoughts she had forgotten she had been in public—let alone attending her best friends' baby shower.

"Sorry, Harry," She apologized, and he waved her off.

"Don't be," He assured her, "You have a lot to think about, I'm sure."

She nodded, smiling quickly and changing the subject. "I'm glad the two of you have the chance to start a family." She said kindly.

"Me too," He grinned, "With the war…it almost seemed like we wouldn't have the chance."

"I'm sorry," She apologized—again—not quite sure why she was apologizing but knowing that she should. He shook his head.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," He told her, "You lied a lot, granted, and you certainly had us wondering for a while there—but…You saw something in Riddle no one else did. It's a good thing you did. The two of you have done a lot of good."

She often forgot the perception of Lord Voldemort that the world had—even her friends. A fierce leader in war but ultimately some sort of…soft-hearted, good-natured leader who led his people to a greater world with the held of his—

Well, with the help of Hermione. Whatever she was.

She supposed none of them were aware of the amount of people he had tortured and killed to get where he was today. She supposed none of them saw him as candidly as she so often did.

It was better this way, anyway.

"What are you two whispering about?" A boisterous voice called, Ron throwing his body into the space between them, lounging out against the couch, practically on top of them. Hermione rolled her eyes, but she was smiling.

"About our supreme leader," Harry joked, and it was Ron's turn to roll his eyes.

"Oh, not that git again," Ron grumbled, "I don't want to hear Riddle's bloody name—If I never see that freak again it'll be too soon." Lavender, who had followed him over to their little trio and sat in the arm chair to the side, leaned over behind Harry and smacked Ron in the chest.

"Ron!" She scolded, her tone making Hermione almost proud of her, "You should speak of him with respect."

"Actually," Harry cut in, "I was talking about Hermione."

Hermione wasn't sure how to respond to that, stuck between denying that she was any sort of leader, or thanking him for something—though she wasn't sure what. Ron sat up and threw his arm around her shoulders, jostling her.

"Ah, right!" He agreed good-naturedly, his surly disposition fading now that the subject of Riddle was gone, "Our new Lady," She scowled and shoved him away. "Have you freed the house elves yet?" He asked teasingly.

"The laws protecting House Elves were passed months ago, Ronald," She said sternly, "You would know that if you paid any attention to politics."

"Boring!" He shouted, laughing loudly as Harry shook his head with his own bemused grin, "How about for your next law," Ron said, drawing her close as if he were telling a secret, "You make it mandatory for work to let you have the day off for the Chuddley Cannon's game—"

"Absolutely not." She intoned, and he threw himself back among the cushions and groaned. She wasn't sure how appropriate it was to get drunk at a baby shower, but apparently that was just how the Weasleys celebrated, as the twins were off in the corner taking shots and Lavender's cheeks were already a pleasant shade of pink. She supposed—at the very least—it could be entertaining for Ginny, who in her current state would certainly not be drinking.

A shame, really, because Ginny could drink any of them under the table.

Speaking of, Ginny was pulling herself to her feet and Harry left them to hover nervously at her side. Irritated, she shooed him away, "I'm only off to the kitchen!" She said, "I'll be right back! Hermione, could you help me?"

"I could help," Harry assured her, and Ginny laughed and took Hermione's arm as she approached her.

"I know," She said, sounding exasperated, "But I never get to talk to anyone without you hovering. Go sit with Ron! I'll be right back."

He did as he was told, looking very tense and fidgety as Ginny waddled away with Hermione's support. She was laughing—not nearly as annoyed as she let on, apparently—and spoke while they were leaving the bustling living room of the Weasley Burrow, "Ron is only mad about Riddle because you were in love with him when you were young and it ruined his chances with you."

Hermione rolled her eyes while Ginny situated herself so she was leaning against the kitchen counter. "Ron is very happy with Lavender." She assured Ginny, unsure where this conversation was headed or what the purpose of it was.

"Of course he is," She agreed, "But Ron holds grudges so long that even he forgets why he's holding the grudge—He might never get over this Riddle thing, but its from petty bullshit anyway."

Hermione hesitated, unsure what the point of this was, and finally said, "I don't care much for what Ron thinks of Lord Voldemort."

"Why do you call him that?" Ginny asked, observing her friend closely, "Why not call him Riddle like the rest of us?"

Hermione eyed Ginny with thinly veiled suspicion and replied, "Respect."

"Respect," Ginny echoed, "And do you call him Lord Voldemort in private as well?"

Hermione blanched. She was careful to keep any private details of her and Riddle's life exactly that—private. It wasn't hard, as Tom wasn't exactly one for public displays of affection, and Hermione was never one to speak of her sexual exploits, so they were left as something like colleagues in the public eye and nothing more. Hermione averted her eyes and said, "I don't see how it should matter what I call him in private." Then followed up quickly with, "Did you want something?" While making her way to the fridge.

"Do we have pickles?" Ginny asked, "They should be on the bottom shelf. I would get them myself but I don't think I'd get back up again if I bent over that far," She laughed, thanking Hermione when she offered her the jar and twisting open the lid. Her mouth was half full when she continued speaking—a habit of the Weasleys, apparently—"Harry told me about what happened with Riddle in seventh year, about how he kissed you—"

"A manipulation tactic, probably," Hermione cut in, not exactly lying because everything Tom did had a certain degree of manipulation. Ginny chewed slowly and regarded Hermione silently for a long while.

"Ron would care," She finally said. Hermione didn't have to ask what she meant, because she immediately continued, "Because he's a prat, but I don't think Harry would care. Or anyone else. We trust you."

"How could you, though?" She asked quietly, a bit desolately. Ginny shrugged carelessly, as if it was a silly question to ask.

"Because you do what's good." She told her. Hermione tied her hair up in a messy bun with the elastic on her wrist, because the room was starting to feel hot and suffocating and she needed the extra air, the extra space around her throat to remind her that she's not being choked. "Regardless of what might be right or wrong, you do what's good. We know it. I mean, Merlin, Remus knows it. If it weren't for you, his life would be entirely different."

"It wasn't just me," She argued.

"No, it wasn't." Ginny agreed, "But you played a big part. And whatever Riddle is, a friend or a lover or a…catalyst—we don't care." She stressed, and after a beat repeated, "Except for Ron. But he's a prat."

Hermione worried her bottom lip. "It's complicated."

"Nothing's complicated," Ginny said.

"Everything is." Hermione argued.

"Look—just—" She cut herself off, huffing an impatient breath and reformatting her thoughts. "Do you love him?"

The answer was yes, she did, but it was more complicated than that. It was complicated because she absolutely did love him, but he didn't, and it was complicated because she didn't care. She didn't care if he didn't, or couldn't, or wouldn't. She didn't care that their entire existence together was formed out of death and war and hatred, she didn't care that he sometimes appeared to be evil incarnate, she didn't care that he was sadistic and cruel. She didn't care that every interaction with him was something like a battle, she didn't care that she often lost, she didn't care that even in the tender moments everything felt doomed to end, doomed to die, doomed to erupt and burn and scar.

It was complicated because it was reckless and hopeless and illogical and everything she always loathed and she didn't even care.

"We've been through a lot," She answered quietly after a long moment of thought, "And we…we belong…to each other."

Ginny snorted, "Of course you would say something like that," She teased, "Me and Harry, we…we belong together, but you and Riddle—you belong to each other." Her smile was wide and gleaming and fond, and Hermione thought it was such a strange expression to have given the topic of conversation. "I'm not saying any of this to pressure you to tell us," Ginny assured her after a moment, "You can keep it a secret until the day you die for all I care, I just…wanted to say it so—if you do want to tell us—you know that you can."

Hermione nodded solemnly. "Thanks, Gin," She murmured.

"Alright," Ginny said, wincing, "My feet are killing me and Harry's probably had an aneurism we've been in here so long—help me back."

She did, but entering the living room was a very different atmosphere than when they left. In their absence, the Marauders had arrived, but what may have been a happy atmosphere—made crazy by Sirius's usual shenanigans—was heavy and dense and a bit frightening. Harry rushed to Ginny, helping her settle in the arm chair beside them.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked.

"Another bloody war is what's wrong," Ron answered before any of the aurors could explain.

"Wha—?" Hermione started to question, but stopped, turning confused eyes on the three older men in the room. Remus sighed tiredly.

"The French Minister's wife is dead."

Her blood ran cold. "How did she die?" She asked, feeling as if she already knew the answer.

"Murdered," James said, "The French Minister has it in his head that it's an act of war from our side."

It probably was, to be fair.

"I have to go." She muttered, heading toward the fireplace. Harry's hand wrapped around her wrist.

"Wait, Hermione we should—"

"I need to talk to Lord Voldemort," She said, "I need to…discuss…I'll be back—I'll come back to speak with you, just—" She snatched her wrist back and left in a rush, tripping out of the fireplace in her own home and seeing Tom lounged out in the window seat—as if he was expecting her.

"Hermione," He greeted without turning her way.

"Did you kill the French Minister's wife?" She demanded, already knowing the answer but quietly hoping she was wrong. He turned his eyes on her and it was clear by his expression that he thought that was a very stupid question. Stubbornly, she remained silent, waiting for an answer.

"He's put a bounty on your head," He said in lieu of an answer. She rolled her eyes.

"Of course he did," She spat, "You killed his wife—why shouldn't he return the favor?"

"Are you defending him?" He sneered, and she nearly stomped her foot like a child in response to his flippancy.

"Why did you kill his wife, Tom?" She demanded angrily. The use of his name had an effect on him—it always did—and he drew himself forward on his seat until his elbows were resting on his knees.

"When I tortured him," He reminded her, "If you hadn't intervened, I would have killed him."

"That would have made it worse," She pointed out.

"No," He disagreed quietly, examining her defensive stance in the middle of the room, "He threatened you." He admitted.

"He doesn't remember that threat—one that was likely well deserved after everything you did to him—" He glared at her, "Because we obliviated him."

"You obliviated him," He corrected. He was always quick to correct her if she ever shouldered any blame onto him for something she did that she considered a bit unjust—it was just as well, because she really should be admitting to her actions, but it unsettled her just the same.

"So—you killed his wife because of his actions that he can't even remember?"

"I killed his wife as a warning—"

"You wanted to start a war." She accused. He rose from his seat, drawing himself to his full height and gesturing for her to come closer.

"Sit down," He said.

"No!" She refused, "You regret letting him live. You wanted to kill him and you were angry I intervened so now you're starting a war—this is childish, Tom!"

"Sit down," He repeated, harsher this time.

"No!" She refused again, "You can't just start a bloody war whenever you want—you don't need France, Tom!"

"The war was inevitable." He argued harshly, "I just sped the process along."

"Yes," She agreed, "Sped the process along, and threw us into a war that we are not ready for—straight off the back of our last war within England—"

"Sit down," He ordered again.

"Stop telling me to sit down!" She snapped. Apparently fed up with her behavior, he whipped out his wand. He was always so quick to cast, whenever they did have a disagreement that ended in a duel, he always got the first hit. He hadn't cast a hex, though, only swept her into the chair without a word and then knelt before her, his hands encircling her arms to keep her there.

She leaned back in the cushy armchair, bringing her knees up as something of a barrier between them. She was angry—the last thing she needed was to be distracted by his hands or his scent. He drew back slightly and raised a bemused eyebrow.

"Well, I'm sitting," She spat, "What is if you wanted to tell me that I had to sit for."

"I wanted you to calm down," He said.

"Calm down?" She echoed, laughing a bit bitterly, "We are on the brink of war, Tom—you know how much I hate war."

"Yes," He agreed, his hands settling on the armrests as he leaned over her. She was thankful that her legs were in the way, as he could only get so close. "But you also know that it is necessary."

"This isn't necessary," She debated, "This is you being a power-hungry lunatic."

He sighed tiredly—as if the name calling exhausted him—and rested his forehead atop her knees. She hated this tactic of his, mostly because it worked. It wasn't quite as effective when her knees were propped up so high, but still—seeing him knelt before her was bad enough, and then he had to go and drape himself over her lap. She liked the image of it too much—and he knew it.

"I hate it when you do this." She told him, frowning as he pressed his smirking lips against her knee, his eyes locked on hers in a way that was almost mocking.

"Do you?" He asked, knowing very well she didn't. She scowled, and his fingers trailed along the tops of her bare feet—her flats had fallen off, most likely when he spelled her to the chair. When his hands finally wrapped around her ankles and he pressed another kiss to the top her hew knee, she knew he was going to pull her legs away. She pressed her toes against his chest and forced him back.

He looked shocked, almost comically so, his eyes dancing from her foot pressed against his chest and her eyes. "No," She said firmly, once he was pushed far enough back that he was sat back on his feet before her. It wasn't often she turned him down for sex—in fact, she wasn't sure she had ever actually turned him down since his escape from Azkaban. His lips curled ever-so-slightly in a disbelieving sneer. "We have a war to fight, thanks to you."

"The war can wait," He said, his voice deep as sin and raspy, too. It caught her off guard—as it often did—and she allowed him to lean in closer, but gathered her wits about her quickly. She shoved him back so suddenly that he nearly fell back. She stood before he could advance on her again and walked over to her flats, slipping them on her feet as she spoke.

"No," She said again, "You wanted me to sit so you can fuck me and I'll forget about my anger—I'm not fucking you." He looked positively victimized, "We need to return to my friends and for God's sake don't let them know you actually killed the French Minister's wife—let them think that he's simply insane." She grabbed his robes and returned to him, pulling him to his feet and draping them over his shoulders. His hands found her waist.

"Hermione," He rumbled, sounding a bit like a warning but she ignored it, pulling harshly away as she continued.

"Then," She said pointedly, "We need to figure out how to diffuse the situation without an all out war—because we do not have the army, the funds, nor the strength to have another war."

"I could kill him," He offered.

"You can't kill everyone who displeases you," She argued.

"No," He agreed, glowering at her as she walked toward the fireplace and pointedly waited for him to follow, "I can't seem to kill you."

It was a childish comment, and she laughed only because she thought it was so strange that a comment involving killing her could be considered childish. "No, you can't," She agreed, because she knew it would piss him off, then gestured toward the fireplace. He stalked up to her, and she was ready to enter when his hands found her arms again. She glared up at him.

"I do love it when you're angry," He admitted, his eyes flashing dangerously, "But I am not fond of the disobedience."

"I didn't realize I was meant to obey you," She quipped, and suddenly his hands were on either side of her jaw, holding her still as he leaned over her. She thought he might kiss her, and she clutched at her wand, ready to curse him if he did. But suddenly a strange expression came over his face, and he pulled away.

"No," He said, "You aren't." Then he entered the fireplace and waited for her to join him.

She did, after a moment of confusion, and they were suddenly back with the group. They were crowded around the dinner table—which had been cleared of food and gifts and now lay empty save for the proclamation of war in the center.

"Good," Harry sighed, "You're back."

"Yes," She agreed, "With company." It was a useless comment to make, because anyone would have noticed Tom's imposing presence, but her introduction still had a tangible effect on the atmosphere of the room. It was quiet, and it seemed like they were unable to make up their minds if they should be welcoming or distant, because after all, this was Lord Voldemort. A man they had imprisoned and then fought a war for and now served under. It was a complicated relationship.

Tom and Hermione sat at the crowded table, squeezed in amongst the Weasleys and the Marauders. Ron was the first to speak. "Did you kill her, then?" He asked.

"No," Tom deadpanned, "I did not." An absolute lie, but one everyone seemed to buy regardless. It was somewhat rare for her to be with Tom and with her friends at the same time—she usually worked as a sort of go-between. The Marauders would meet with Tom often without her, as they were aurors—which had become little more than another term for soldier, now—and Tom was more ready to deal with war than she was. But otherwise, she worked between. On the rare occasions when they were all together, she always found the dynamic fascinating.

She forgot, sometimes, how powerful Tom really was—how much respect he commanded. It was different, when it was only the two of them. It was different with her.

Then again, maybe not so different. Maybe just…more explosive.

"We need to talk strategy," James said, "About how we're going to deal with this threat."

"There's no threat if he's dead," Tom suggested point blank. There was a brief pause before Ron spoke.

"Alright, are we bloody sure you didn't kill the wife, then?" He asked, flinching when Lavender no doubt stomped on his foot.

"Yes, we're bloody sure," Hermione snapped, "Are you going to help, or are you going to continue speaking out of your—" She might've continued with expletives, but Tom's hand had suddenly fallen on her thigh, and the gesture was so strange and unnatural that her words caught in her throat and her nails dug into his wrist. His rough fingers wrapped around the bare skin of her thigh, hot and heavy and surprising because—Tom Riddle did not touch her in public. Sure, it was under the table, and they were pressed so closely together at that crowded dinner table that no one would dave noticed if his hand were in her lap instead of his, but—this was something he just…didn't do.

She might've drawn blood from his wrist but his only reaction was to tighten his grip on her thigh, his fingers dwelling much to close to the place where her thighs meet.

"He has a point," Sirius admitted with hesitation, gesturing to Tom, "If the French Minister really is unhinged, maybe its better if he's dead?"

"No," Harry said, "We can't just kill him because he's crazy and thinks we killed his wife—"

"Thinks Lord Voldemort killed his wife," Ron corrected, and Tom's fingers twitched and shifted and dragged up the inside of her thigh and—why did she had to wear a skirt to this blasted party? She pulled at his wrist but he didn't pull away, his fingers sliding past her underwear and—

"If we kill him, who's to say someone else won't take his place who wants a war, too?" Ginny offered, her hand tracing distracted circles around her swollen belly.

"It would buy us time," Remus admitted, "So even if there is still a war, we have the time we need to be ready for it."

"If he's dead, and we place someone we want in office, there would be no war," Tom commented, and she was a bit furious that he should sound so calm when his fingers were doing horrible things to her under the table.

"And I suppose you have someone in mind?" Ron asked, and at his input—because, for some reason, Tom reacted very strongly to the reminder of Ron's presence—his finger dragged up her slit. "Very Slytherin of you," Ron sneered, "Are we sure you didn't kill the wife?" Tom's nail scraped against her clit and she couldn't stop the sharp pull of air between her teeth.

"'Mione?" Harry started, looking ready to ask if she was okay and she most certainly was not okay by any means.

She shoved her chair back, his hand falling away, "I need to speak with Tom in the kitchen," She said, ignoring the baffled looks from her friends and not noticing that she had just called him Tom in front of everyone. She stood, hooking her foot around the leg of his chair in order to drag it out from the table. He looked up at her through his lashes, looking calm and cool but also very pleased, and she bit back a sharp retort. "Now, please," She seethed. He stood and silently followed her into the kitchen.

She slammed the door shut, brandishing her wand to lock and silence the room—because damn it, she gives up—and drops her wand on the kitchen counter. He smiles, standing before her like he's won, looking at her with thinly veiled amusement as if her anger was nothing to him. "What is this?" She sneered, "Punishment?"

He took a step toward her, reaching for her, "Did it feel like a punishment?" He asked. She placed her hands against his chest and shoved as hard as she could. He hadn't been expecting it, because his back suddenly collided with the wall behind him and he stared at her with some sort of gleeful shock.

"I am trying," She seethed, stepping closer to slip her fingers around his wand and place it back with hers— he didn't move a muscle to stop her. "To fix your problem so we aren't ruined by a war you started."

"The problem is solved," He assured her, his hands sliding around her waist and drawing her nearer.

"By murdering the minister and appointing someone under your control so that France is yours?" She surmised.

"Yes," He agreed, "No war necessary." She clenched her jaw, ignoring the goosebumps that rose along her flesh while his fingers trailed along her back. "Which you would know," He said, pulling her closer. "If you weren't so set on being angry with me."

She glared spitefully. "You're infuriating," She told him, "You don't need France."

"But I want France," He told her, pressing her against him, sliding his hands underneath her top so his fingers met the bare skin of her waist.

She rolled her eyes. "You're infuriating," She told him again, and she kissed him.

They turned so her back was at the wall instead, his body caging her in, his lips meeting every frantic, furious movement of hers. He drew her lower lip in between his teeth and bit until he drew blood, smothering her whimpers with his lips and his tongue. They didn't have their wands, so they were left to strip clothing away piece by piece, unable to magic it away and unwilling to part long enough to collect their wands to do so. They never entirely undressed—her top was gone and her knickers, his belt was thrown away and his shirt half unbuttoned and untucked—but, as was often the way in their trysts, they were too impatient to fully undress.

He lifted her against the wall, her legs wrapping around his waist and her hands settling on his shoulders. His teeth dragged down the column of her throat, his hands bruising her thighs as she arched her back and bucked her hips against his. "You're disgusting," She moaned, "You shouldn't be touching me in front of my friends."

"You're the one who dragged me out so you could fuck me in their kitchen," He laughed darkly in her ear, his thumb pressing against her clit.

"You're a bastard," She told him.

"Yes," He agreed, dragging out the final consonant when he finally sank into her. Her nails sank into the skin of his back, dragging red lines over his shoulder blades as he pounded into her. He pulled at her thighs, his fingers gripping her so tightly she was sure she would have bruises shaped like his hands when they were done, but she was leaving marks of her own—marks that bled, marks that would seep into the white of his shirt, marks that would scar.

One of his hands sank into her hair and pulled—not to look at him or to kiss him because his teeth were sinking into her shoulder, but almost as if he needed something to hold on to. His hips drove violently into hers, every thrust was jostling and every stroke send her head spinning. She cried out when she came, her nails relenting on his back as her hands found purchase at his shoulders. He came not long after she did. His hair had fallen over his forehead and she ran her fingers through his scalp to drag it back into place. He pulled his head away from her shoulder when she ran a finger along his back where her nails had broken through skin. She brought her hand around for him to see her blood-stained forefinger.

"Sorry," She apologized, but she wasn't. He eyed her hand for a moment where it hung between them, before allowing her legs to drop to the floor. One arm remained wrapped around her waist, and the other long-fingered hand wrapped around her wrist, drawing her finger into his mouth. She felt his tongue swirl around it and that heat started building up in her stomach again.

"My friends," She reminded him breathlessly. He had the audacity to roll his eyes, but still pulled away, righting his pants and rebutting his shirt. She pulled her knickers back on and her top, gathering their wands from the counter and retuning his, using her own to clean his shirt where the blood had seeped through.

"I'm still angry at you," She reminded him, "The next time you decide to kill a politicians wife, the least you can do is warn me of the possible repercussions. So I don't have to find out via a declaration of war."

He nodded solemnly. He looked a mess, and she was certain she did, too, but they had already been in the kitchen long enough and it was probably time they returned. She smoothed a hand over the creases of his shirt.

"We won't kill him," She told him, "I want to find another way."

He nodded again, staring down at her with something akin to warmth. His thumb dragged across her lower lip, and it stung, reminding her of the feeling of his teeth. "I know you do." He murmured, looking strangely fond, his eyes matching the expression Ginny had in the kitchen talking about Hermione's phrase—they belong to each other.

"You won't kill him?" She asked, because her phrasing offered too much room to roam.

"I would do anything you asked me to," He reminded her, and a smile pulled at her lips.

When they entered, everyone at the table turned suddenly to them. They all looked a bit terrified, wide-eyed, like they weren't certain that both would be coming back unharmed. It seemed they were set to assume they had been in a fight. The only outlier was Ginny, who looks utterly mortified, so Hermione ignored her.

Instead, she glared venomously at Ron, and said, "He didn't kill the fucking wife."

Ron nodded silently, and they continued the meeting.

Tom's hand settled on her knee and strayed no further.


Thank you all of you so so so so so so so SOOOOOO much for reviewing, favouriting, and following this story! I mean 200 REVIEWS! IN JUST A COUPLE WEEKS LIKE that is so unreal and i want you guys to know—if I haven't made it clear already—that I reeeeaaally appreciate it!

I know some of you want me to draw it out longer—and that is so nice! And to be honest, there's probably stuff that I could do to draw it out a bit, but…I just really want to end it here, if that makes sense. I feel like this is a good place to end it…..I feel good about this ending. And I like the idea of leaving a bit up in the air so you guys can kind of…have a bit of breathing room? I'm not making any sense I just don't want to beat this story into the ground, and 50,000 words is more than I originally planned and i think its enough. idk. hopefully its not a shitty ending idk? I'm really bad at endings ok? I'm sorry?

anyway I dont think I can accurately describe how fun this was to write 1. because i like the storyline but 2. because of your reactions like! you guys are so wonderful and supportive and excitable and it was just really cool HEARING FROM YOU GUYS and some of you even message me on tumblr and stuff and like THATS SO COOL NO ONE TALKS TO ME ON TUMBLR SO I WAS LIKE ! WOW ! WOW!


I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH AND THANKS FOR SUPPORTING ME! I'll see you soon with another tomione because I'm actually writing another one why do I do this I am such utter trash I h8 myself ok bye

(also i am very tired its 2 AM please tell me about any strange typos! i don't get annoyed i get some people like oh sorry i don't want to offend you but you had a typo and I'm like NO! I AM NOT OFFENDED I AM ACTUALLY IN YOUR DEBT so yeah help a girl out pls)

ok i love you by for real now ok bye