Summary: "I'm beginning to think that I would love to hear you scream." Tomione. Regency AU. Rated-M.

She never grows tired of watching the sun set from her spot on the roof of the Weasley estate. In fact she never gets enough of it. The slow fade of the sky from bright blue to pinky orange, fading past the deep purples until the inky black of night settles over her and she can watch the stars. It's the only time she can have a moment completely to herself—the brief solitude offered during the time she was supposed to be in bed, asleep. But she stays awake, climbs up to the roof, and lays back and watches the sun paint the sky, watches the stars and traces the constellations, before climbing back down and retiring to bed(where she was supposed to be in the first place).

The truth is, there was too much that Hermione liked about the Weasley estate. She thinks perhaps its because she associates it with salvation—the family that saved her from a life alone in an orphanage, the home that offered her familial love when she had none. So when she considers change—waking up to something other than the mangy barn cat that she loves jumping through her window to smother her in her sleep, meals with the Weasley family(those who still lived on the estate), evenings with Harry or Ron or Ginny until she found her moment on the roof with the stars—the thought of change puts her in a state of unease.

She could attribute her status as a spinster to that fear of change, but if she's being honest, she's probably just annoying. Because while she is not the only woman who is intelligent, who is opinionated, who is unafraid of men, she is starting to think she is the only one without the good sense to keep those traits well hidden until after she is married. And while she cares little about married life—or lack thereof—she cannot say she cares as little about the worried glances of Molly Weasley when yet another man turns away from her. She cares about worrying her family.

Her family. Because while she remains Hermione Granger, she is a Weasley, too. It's the closest she thinks she'll ever be to changing her surname.

(Not that she wants to, but it seems to her that what she wants hardly ever matters, anyway)

So she takes the little moments of peace as she can find them, whether it be a moment midday when she can sit with her book and not be bothered, or if it's a ride on the family's horses with Ron, or a stroll around the gardens with Ginny, or an evening with the sun and the stars, she savors these moments. She knows they aren't forever.

"Did you see the carriages?" Ginny asks her one afternoon over tea, practically bouncing in her seat with excitement, "Someone's moving into that old estate!"

"No ones lived there in ages," Hermione murmurs, glancing over Ginny's shoulder. In the distance she can just barely see the roof of the estate, "It must be quite run down."

"I wonder if it's a man," Ginny said, grinning, "I wonder if he's handsome."

"You wonder if he's unmarried and in desperate need of a wife?" Hermione replies, laughing in light of Ginny's excitement. She has to admit she's interested, too, in who could be moving in. But she had been joking when she said he would be looking for a wife in Ginny—she didn't think he actually would.

But he did.

Tom Riddle was the type of man Hermione had never liked. He was tall and handsome and charming, effortlessly so, the type of charming that left you feeling somehow cheated when they were gone. Everything he said was perfectly, precisely chosen and presented, like a con-man, or a politician. She didn't like his smug smile, or his measured laughter, or his carefully constructed replies.

And her dislike for him had nothing to do with the fact that when he first visited the Weasley estate he mistook her for a maid, but that certainly didn't help.

She distrusted him because of his efficiency.

The moment he walked in, his eyes focused on young, impressionable Ginny Weasley and every action from then going forward seemed to be focused around charming her. Hermione wonders if she only saw it because he thought she was a maid—because he thought she was unimportant and so he didn't hide it well enough from her. Or maybe she is simply used to men and the way they manipulate to get what they want. Maybe it's because she's older, or because she is already past that starry-eyed, marriage-focused mind that Ginny still possesses.

Whatever the reason, she doesn't trust Tom Riddle. And she especially doesn't trust him with the closest thing to a sister she will ever have.

He never speaks to her, but then she supposes she never speaks to him. Mrs. Weasley lavishes him with compliments every time he so much as breathes, Arthur Weasley—when he's not traveling because of work—can't help but comment on what an upstanding young man he is. Fred and George when they come to visit think he's uptight but otherwise have no comment—and then accuse her of being too invested in their sister's love-life when she presses—and even Ron, who hates practically every man who ever makes a move on herself or Ginny, has nothing bad to say about him.

"Look, 'Mione," He sighed, his horse walking beside hers, "I don't know what you want me to say. I think he seems like a respectable—"

"Respectable," She scoffs, "There is nothing respectable about that man."

"What has he done?" He asks, and at her extended silence, he presses, "Has he done something to you?"

"No," She sighs, "I just don't trust him…" Ron doesn't press the issue, possibly because he's unsure what to say, and she can't blame him. "I can't help but think about Harry," She admits after a moment.

"Harry will probably agree with you," Ron said, "But for different reasons." She knew he was right—Harry would absolutely agree with her—but she also knew he was wrong because his reasons for distrusting Riddle wouldn't end with his love for Ginny. It would start there, no doubt—he had loved her ever since he started working for her father as a young man and they met—but he was like her. Distrustful. Maybe it was a trait found in orphans.

"I'll write to him," Hermione said, "I'll tell him what's happening. Maybe then he'll hurry home and talk some sense to her."

"I'm staying out of it," Ron grumbled, "Last time I tried to get involved in Ginny's love-life she pushed me out of a moving carriage."

Hermione laughed, ushering her horse to move faster, "That was me." She reminded him, looking over her shoulder and grinning when she saw he was racing to catch up to her, "I'm happy to hear you've learned your lesson!"

"You're insufferable," He told her when he caught up to her, reaching to take the reins of her horse to slow her down. She let him, watching him laugh, watching the sun dance through his ginger hair. He was always so serious, so sullen, but she liked the way he looked when he laughed.

She cleared her throat. "You're the insufferable one." She countered—a stupid response—and upon spotting the stable not too far away she turned her horse in that direction, sliding off the side of the horse once she reached it. She patted her nose once it was enclosed in its stall, picking up an apple to feed her.

"You've been through this once already," She muttered to herself—and the horse, who was munching away on her apple—thinking of the dimple in Ron's cheek, of his laugh.

"What are you talking about?" A voice called behind her and Hermione jumped violently, turning to see Ginny's impish smile.

"Jesus, you scared me," Hermione gasped, "What are you doing here? I thought Mr. Riddle would be with you." She couldn't help the way her tone had suddenly gone sour.

"He has business today, or something," She said, waving her off, "I thought I would go for a ride."

"Ron is still riding," Hermione said, gesturing to where he was still trotting on his horse, "I'm sure he'd love for you to join him."

"I think I will," Ginny agreed, but she hesitated, and while Hermione couldn't quite read whatever it was in her gaze, she knew something was there.

"What is it?" She asked a bit hesitantly.

"I know that you are not fond of Mr. Riddle," Ginny started, wringing her hands in front of her as she spoke. Hermione pursed her lips and she must've looked ready to retort because Ginny hurried on, "And don't deny it," She said quickly, "It's written all over your face. But the fact of the matter is you haven't spent that much time with him and I think that if you did, perhaps you would see that there is nothing to be suspicious of—"

"Ginny," She cut in tiredly, feeling slightly sorry for the way Ginny's mouth snapped shut as if she was expecting a lecture, "You do not need my approval for whom you choose to court, I just—"

"I know I don't," Ginny said sternly, "But it still matters to me."

Hermione hesitated, examining the stubborn set of her friend's shoulders, her mouth pressed into a thin line. She wasn't sure what she should say—she didn't want to lie and say she approved, but she also wasn't about to tell Ginny who she is allowed to spend her time with. But she also had no intention of spending a single moment more with Tom Riddle than what was strictly necessary. So, after a thoughtful pause, she finally asked, "What about Harry?"

Ginny sighed, finally opening the stall and pulling her horse out by its reins, "Mr. Potter isn't here," She said finally—and she must've been upset to refer to him so formally—"And he has not asked to court me. Mr. Riddle has." She walked her house next to a small stool and used it to mount the horse, pulling her skirts up and then arranging them over her legs.

She didn't say another word to Hermione as she lead her horse to join Ron. She looked angry.

Hermione resolved to send that letter tonight, and she hoped it would find Harry soon.

Harry wrote back quickly, his response rather terse. By the time his letter reached her, his promised return date was within a week.

That day couldn't come sooner.

She was certain Ginny must've mentioned Hermione's distaste for Mr. Riddle because he was suddenly taking notice of her. He didn't speak to her, of course, and she thanked the stars every evening she spent on the roof that he didn't, but he had a way of observing her that set her on edge in a way she was sure his words would never be able to. It was the way he didn't look at you but through you, like every movement, every twitching finger, every blink of the eye was a message. She didn't like the feeling when she was pinned—however briefly—under his gaze.

And it was always brief. A glance when she saw him walking with Ginny through the garden, when he would first arrive and he would greet her("Good afternoon, Miss Granger," He would say, his voice smooth as sin and his eyes burning her alive). She hated it because he didn't do that before, he thought of her as an afterthought, not quite a Weasley therefore not worth noticing, and now—

She was absolutely certain Ginny mentioned it to him. And a man who so painstakingly plans his performance does not take kindly to hearing that there is someone who is not fond of that carefully crafted facade. She knew this.

So, mostly she hid.

It wasn't as pathetic as jumping behind the hedges or draping herself in the curtains and hoping he doesn't see, she was simply careful not to place herself in the same room as him for longer than absolutely necessary. She would meet his eyes just long enough for him to know he didn't unnerve her, but not long enough to warrant any verbal interaction. When he sat in on meals—as he sometimes did, but not often—she kept her mouth shut and only spoke when spoken to, as to not draw attention to herself.

She told herself it was not her place to be telling Ginny what to do but every time he said her name(Ginevra he called her, never Ginny) she wanted to steal the words from his lips and never let him speak them again. She wanted him to leave her family alone.

She knew, at this point, she was being a bit paranoid. That's why she kept her mouth shut. If, by this point, he hadn't done anything nefarious then it was doubtful that he planned anything of the sort to begin with. Why would he wait so long to enact his evil plan if he had one? He was probably just unlikeable(by her standards) but otherwise harmless.

She just couldn't shake that feeling. Like there was something terribly dark about him and no one could quite see what. But she could see shades of it, sometimes, in the moments between his words and his silence, when his eyes would settle on her and look so impossibly dark, when those eyes would seem to burn. Burn like ice, not fire.

She told herself that Harry would arrive and confess his love to Ginny and she would come to her senses and they would finally be rid of this ridiculous Riddle situation.

On the day Harry was meant to arrive, Ginny Weasley sat on an overturned bucket around the back of the estate, facing the trail that would mark Harry Potter's arrival, gnawing on her lower lip and wringing her hands. Hermione hoped that was a good sign.

"Waiting for Harry?" She guessed, pulling another bucket over to sit next to her. Ginny jumped when she spoke, as if she was too lost in thought to notice her arrival, before shaking her head.

"No," She denied, "I'm waiting for Mr. Riddle. I simply…like the view here." She seemed to know herself what a silly excuse that was, because she wrinkled her nose after she said it, but made no move to deny anything.

"Well, I'm certain Harry is very much looking forward to seeing you," She assured her, happy at the way Ginny's cheeks flushed.

"Mr. Riddle is looking forward to meeting him, too." She said, and Hermione rolled her eyes. Ginny seemed quite determined to continue pulling the subject back to him. "He hasn't met him yet," She continued, "He's met the whole family now, except for Harry." Hermione hummed in agreement, not quite caring enough to verbalize any response. She hadn't realized he had met everyone—had he truly been courting Ginny long enough to meet everyone as they came to visit?

"And except for you." Ginny said quietly, watching Hermione in the corner of her eye. Hermione turned to her in confusion.

"Of course he's met me." She said.

"Hardly," Ginny argued, turning to face her more fully, "You aren't in a room with him for more than two seconds—Hermione, I promise you if you spent some time with him you would see him like I do—"

"I will never be a fan of Mr. Riddle, Gin, I admit," She confessed, running a hand through her wild hair as the wind blew it into her face, "But I trust you, and if you—"

"That's not enough, though." Ginny cut in stubbornly. "Please, just take a walk with us through the gardens, listen to him—you'll like him, I promise."

"Ginny," Hermione said sternly, sounding more like Molly Weasley than she would care to admit, "I have no intention of ever spending a minute more than necessary with—"

"Ah, excuse me, Ginevra, Miss Granger," A deep voice cut in, and Ginny snapped her body around to see Mr. Riddle rounding the corner of the house, smiling apologetically, "I don't mean to interrupt—"

"No, of course not Mr. Riddle," Ginny said, jumping to her feet. Hermione tried to hide her displeasure and rose to her feet as well, "I apologize, I didn't greet you at the door."

"Please, call me Tom," He insisted—sounding like he had asked Ginny multiple times—and Hermione felt slightly ill at the amicability of his tone. "And it's no bother, your mother told me you would be out here. It must be exciting, having Mr. Potter come home."

"Oh," Ginny began dismissively, shaking her head, "Of course it is, but moreso for Hermione than I. They've always been very close." It was then Mr. Riddles eyes found hers, boring into her and making her shoulders suddenly feel very heavy under the weight of his gaze. She felt very tempted to snark something about how very close Ginny had been to Harry, but decided against it, forcing a small smile and nodding her head without a sound. Riddle seemed somehow displeased by her response, his lips pursing, but the look was gone before she could be sure it was real. "Hermione was going to join us on our stroll, weren't you Hermione?" Ginny said.

Hermione's eyes snapped to meet Ginny's, more than ready to explain that no, she absolutely was not, but something in her expression gave her pause. It was nearly desperate, she thought. And considering—if Harry can't gather his courage to confess his own feelings, or if Ginny refuses him—Riddle may actually marry Ginny. She felt she owed it to her friend. So she nodded tersely, another forced smile, and replied, "That would be lovely."

That was all she managed, but it was enough for Ginny, who lit up like the sunrise and said, "Wonderful! Let's walk through the gardens." She slipped her hand through Tom's offered arm and Hermione walked on the other side of her sister, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Te only positive was that, as they were walking, Tom Riddle couldn't lock his discomforting gaze on her.

But he could speak to her, which was arguably worse.

"Miss Granger," He begins kindly, and she feels her body coil in preparation for this conversation like a cat ready to pounce, "I find out of everyone I have met, it is you I know the least. You are a bit of a mystery to me."

"Mystery seems like an exaggeration," She murmured in response, a knee jerk reaction to an uncomfortable situation, and once she realized what she said she turned to see him glancing over at her with a very irritated set to his jaw. She wasn't sure what to say to rectify the situation, however, so she stayed silent.

Ginny is the first to speak after that, "Hermione, Mr. Riddle was telling me about his time spent in London—"

"London?" Hermione echoed, genuinely interested, turning her head as they walk to meet Riddle's eyes which had already settled on her again. "I hear it's impossible to tell the difference between the prostitutes and the ladies there, is that true?"

Ginny choked for a moment before scolding, "Hermione," as discreetly as she could, but Tom didn't look offended, he looked amused if she read his expression correctly. She realized what she said, realized that it may be inappropriate, and frowned, turning her eyes ahead of her again.

There was a beat of silence.

"Um," Ginny floundered, "Hermione, perhaps you could tell Tom about your time in Bulgaria last year?"

"There isn't much to tell," She admitted.

"What brought you to Bulgaria?" Mr. Riddle asked, likely for the sake of keeping the conversation flowing, and Hermione shrugged. She wasn't sure what to say—her time in Bulgaria had been fascinating but also irritating, where Victor Krum's proposal was concerned.

"She has a friend she writes to who lives there, Victor Krum. They met when his carriage wheel came off near our house, and—well, it was very romantic." Hermione scoffed, and while Ginny dutifully ignored it, Riddle noticed. "She went back to Bulgaria with him when he invited her."

"But you are unmarried?" Riddle clarified. Hermione readied herself for the comment about impropriety. "Is it appropriate to—"

"I am unmarried," She cut him off, "And I also had never been to Bulgaria—whether it was appropriate or not by your standards is irrelevant to me." He glared at her then—outright glared—and Ginny laughed nervously, sending Hermione a dirty glance as well.

"She is a bit sensitive when the topic of marriage arises—" She began, attempting to make an excuse of her, but Hermione cut in again.

"I simply do not understand what my being unmarried has to do with visiting another country—I am not a dog that needs to be kept, I'm free to travel wherever I please, married or not." The sun beat harshly upon them as they walked, and she swiped the back of her hand across her forehead, pushing her curls off her face. Tom Riddle watched.

"I apologize if I offended you," He said smoothly, his eyes not leaving her as he walked. She hoped he tripped. "It wasn't my intention—"

"I care very little about your intention." She muttered, but apparently not quiet enough to keep it unheard.

"Hermione," Ginny hissed.

"I apologize," She said immediately, knowing she was being unnecessarily difficult. If he would just stop looking at her—"It's hot."

They had made their way around the gardens by that point, and she could see the path again. She wished Harry would hurry up and arrive so she could send this horrid walk and get away from the thunderous gaze of Tom Riddle. She glanced up toward the house, where Molly Weasley stood at the backdoor, waving something—

"Oh—" Ginny said, and Hermione was certain she would've swore if Tom had not been there. "I'll be right back—wait for me?" She said, slipping her arm out from Toms and hurrying to where her mother stood. Hermione watched in abject horror as the realization fell upon her that she was suddenly—

"Miss Granger," He said quietly.

Alone with Tom Riddle.

She turned her head to meet his eyes, a silent signal she was listening, but she kept her mouth shut. She had probably insulted him enough. "I understand you dislike me," He started, and she was ready to deny it, but he continued, "You do not have to lie to me, Miss Granger, your emotions play quite clearly on your face. I know you do not like me."

She was quiet for a moment. "Alright," She agreed, "I do not like you."

His jaw twitched, as if he had not expected her to agree. "Interesting," He said, "Considering we have hardly spoken before today." There was something decidedly chilly about his tone. Something that prompted her to keep her mouth shut. So she hummed in response, glancing up at the house to see Ginny seemingly arguing with her mother. "I do wonder," Riddle continued, taking a step closer to her but keeping a respectable distance away, "If I may be forthright…Is it because my attentions lie with Ginevra and not with you?"

And suddenly she forgot that it might be smarter to stay quiet.

She nearly threw out her neck turning back to face him, her expression incredulous, and upon seeing how serious he was, she couldn't help but dissolve into disbelieving laughter. His brow puckered as he watched her. "Are you truly so arrogant?" She replied. She saw his jaw twitch again, as if he may be grinding his teeth. She huffed, shaking her head and still smiling simply because she was so astounded that he could ever think—"Mr. Riddle," She seethed, still smiling, "Every morning when I wake up, I thank the Lord above that your attentions do not lie with me." He was silent, so she continued. "You believe there must be some underlying cause for my distaste for you—jealousy or spite—but the truth is I simply do not like you, Mr. Riddle, I find you distrustful, and I do not trust you with my sister."

"And it does not bother you that your sister," He stressed the word like he believed it wasn't true, and she felt her muscles tense, "Who is nearly five years younger, will marry before you?"

She hesitated. Not because what he said was true, but because he was truly planning on marrying Ginny. It made her decidedly uncomfortable. "I believe my worth isn't determined by whether or not I have a husband." She answered.

"Inspiring," He replied dryly, obviously not meaning it, and she furrowed her brow at his response. Obviously he felt no need to carry on the perfect-gentleman facade now that he knew she disliked him. But she was happy for it—He was proving her suspicions correct.

"You believe I should marry?" She pressed, "Become a child-bearing mule for whatever man will take me?" She narrowed her eyes for a moment, observing him. "And why are you so concerned with my marriage-status?"

"You do not wish to be married," He surmised quietly, observing her in the same way she was him. "Are you not attracted to men?"

She laughed again—the sound bubbling up in her throat so suddenly she couldn't quite stop it—and wrinkled her nose in response. "Are you still searching for reasons that I'm not in love with you?" She goaded, "I am attracted to men, Mr. Riddle, I am simply not attracted to you."

His head tilted, just so, and his eyes might've darkened, but she wasn't sure if that was possible. He took another step closer to her, and suddenly he was so close that she could scarcely focus on anything else. At this distance she could count his eyelashes, smell the scent of his cologne, and if she moved, if she even breathed too deep, she would be able to feel him. It was strange, how suddenly her breath could be stolen, how suddenly her body could feel overwhelmed with the very presence of him. And his eyes—forever burning, burning, burning—bore into hers as his voice, deep and dark as sin, said, "Are you not?"

She paused, because she needed a moment to collect her thoughts and ensure that when she spoke it would be even. She glared at his neck, because she did not want to meet his eyes—she didn't like the look in them, she couldn't comprehend it and she didn't want to—"You are very close to me." She observed evenly.

"Does that make you uncomfortable?" He asked, his voice so quiet, deep and rumbling and rasping, and she was angry only because she wanted to touch him. And she wanted him to touch her, that sinful voice rasping at her ear, she wanted—

"Yes," She spat, "Of course it does. This is wildly inappropriate, step away from me."

"You could step away." He reminded her. She didn't move. "But you won't," He observed, "How…refreshing."

She snorted, a very unladylike sound which apparently did nothing to dissuade his advancements, "Refreshing?" She echoed, a bit mockingly, "Careful, Mr. Riddle, or you'll have me believing you're attracted to me."

She meant it as a throw away comment—because obviously he wasn't, and obviously he was doing this out of some sick pleasure in making her uncomfortable, and obviously he was only interested in Ginny—but then his fingers found her wrist. He didn't hold it, really, his fingers just rested over it, a reminder that he could hold her, if he wanted. A reminder that she wanted him to. Quietly, he asked, "And what if I were to tell you I was attracted to you?"

Her heart skipped a beat, and she thought he might've felt it where is fingers met her wrist. "I would tell you to watch your tongue, sir." She spat, her eyes finally flickering up to meet his. Her insides twisted at the way he looked upon her. "You are still courting my sister. Now step away from me."

"I don't want to step away," He told her, and now that she met his eyes she could see the way his eyebrow quirked upwards, the way the light reflected in his dark eyes seemed to dance, the way his eyes flitter across every part of her face, taking her in, soaking her in.

"I'm sure you also wouldn't want word to get around about what a poor excuse of a gentleman you are," She fired back, her voice even, her tone sure. "So if you don't want me to start screaming, I suggest—"

His hand clasped around her wrist, then, tight enough to silence her in the brief moment before he spoke, but not enough to bruise. It was warm, and it made her stomach scream at the contact. He leaned in, his eyes dropping from her eyes to her lips, and when he spoke again he really did rasp, like he was parched, like he was desperate, "I'm beginning to think that I would love to hear you scream."

Her breath caught in her throat. He heard it, because his lips finally curled up into the widest smile she had seen on him yet, and it was wicked.

The sound of horses's hooves on the dirt path and the unmistakeable sound of carriage wheels were her salvation, and tearing her eyes away from Tom Riddle's, she could see Harry Potter's carriage come down the road. She rips away from Tom, his fingers slipping from her wrist, and she flies toward the carriage, jumping into Harry's arms the minute he hops down.

"Hermione," Harry says with a grin once they part, his hands settling on her waist with a laugh, "Calm down, you're shaking." He was obviously misconstruing her terror—or whatever this feeling twisting her stomach was—as excitement for his arrival.

Without thinking, she glances over her shoulder to Riddle. He's still watching her, like she's his prey, and half out of anger, half out of shame at the fluttering in her belly, she ignores him. Ginny made it to the carriage by now, and she shyly says hello.

Hermione supposes they can't just admit their love for each other right this moment, but she wishes they would, just so she could finally free herself from Tom Riddle's unavoidable gaze. And she can practically feel his presence at her back, like his fingertips on her wrist lit something inside her, made her hyperaware of him.

"Mr. Potter," He greets from somewhere behind her. She turns from observing Harry and Ginny's silent interaction to see his eyes focused somewhere around her middle, and it's only then she realizes Harry's hands hadn't yet moved, settled around her waist in a friendly embrace. When his eyes raise to meet Harry's, they're decidedly chilly. "A pleasure to meet you, I'm Tom Riddle."

Harry clenched his jaw. Tom noticed, and Hermione saw the barely noticeable tilt of his head in response. "Mr. Riddle," Harry greeted tersely. Hermione pinched his side as a reminder to be polite—just because she had told him Riddle was the one vying for Ginny's hand, didn't mean he could show his distaste—and Tom's eyes flickered down to her hand on his waist. "I've heard so much about—"

"As have I," He replied with a terse smile, "Miss Granger is quite fond of you." Hermione met his eyes with her own wide-eyed, angry glare. His implications that she had apparently raved about Harry were false, of course, but potentially damaging considering the expression that had settled over Ginny's face—caught somewhere between confused and upset. Harry's hands twitched on her waist, looking as if he was caught between laughing—because he knew their relationship was rooted in friendship only—and questioning Tom's explicitly obvious tone.

Hermione wanted to punch him.

She wanted to say something, something like 'I'm certain Ginny spoke more about him than I ever have,' but she feared making Ginny more uncomfortable than she already was. So she settled for glaring furiously at Tom Riddle.

"Aw, 'Mione," Harry joked, his hand rising to ruffle her hair, "Is there something you want to confess, love?" She fought against his hand, pushing away from his chest and directing her glare to Harry instead of Tom, now.

"Get your hands off of me, you absolute troll," She said, fighting at the smile the called to her lips when Harry laughed loudly.

"But you're so fond of me, love!" He argued, laughing as her hands settled in her hair, "Don't you want to propose?" She reached out and shoved his chest, unable to hold back the smile that was struggling to take hold since he first arrived.

"I'm regretting inviting you back already," She said.

"You invited him back?" Ginny asked, her eyes jumping between Hermione and Harry. Hermione's smile fell, wondering what was going on in her mind, knowing that Tom's simple comment could be enough to plant a seed of doubt in her mind. Her eyes flickered to him to find him already watching her. She wished he would just get trampled by a horse.

"Yes," She agreed, promising herself to speak with Ginny in private to be certain she didn't believe she had any feelings for Harry. For the moment, however, Ginny's expression implied they would have a lot to speak about.

Tom Riddle would not sabotage Hermione's plan to bring Ginny and Harry together. She wouldn't allow it.

"Well, Harry, you've come all this way," She said, setting her hands about his shoulders, "You must be famished—Ginny, how about you take him inside? Ron will probably be in the kitchen—he always is—and I'm certain he'd love to see Harry—"

"Well, I—" Ginny started, but Hermione had already reached her side with Harry and was ushering them away.

"Look, Mrs. Weasley is waiting at the door looking ready to implode—I'll be up in a moment—"

Harry offered Ginny a hesitant smile and his arm, which she took as they made their way up toward the house. She whirled around to face Riddle, who was regarding her with a strange half-smile. She considered recklessly telling him to stay out of Ginny and Harry's relationship, but she knew if he was after Ginny's hand, of course he would want to stand in between them. It annoyed her how, within the first few seconds of Harry's arrival, he somehow was able to see straight through her plan.

"I have never spoken of Harry to you," She settled for instead. His smile grew, and he strolled closer to her until he was—yet again—invading her space. He didn't touch her this time, and she was thankful for that.

"No, you haven't," He agreed, his falsely friendly tone giving way to that quiet, rumbling tone that he seemed to save only for her. "But it is obvious you are fond of him. And it is obvious what you are attempting to do."

"I am attempting to welcome back a friend—" She argued, and his sudden laughter cut her off. He was so close that when he gazed down at her she had little choice but to meet his eyes, unless she wanted to focus on the curl of his lips or the wind through his hair, but both images brought a heat to her stomach that was too distracting to allow.

"You will find that I am not the type you wish to play games with, Miss Granger," He told her, threatening even as his expression remained serene. She thought he may be enjoying this—intimidating her, angering her, using his voice to wreak havoc on her heart—so she squared her shoulders and stood straight and tall, raising her chin to meet his eyes in a way that made her feel decidedly less mousy.

"And you will find, Mr. Riddle," She replied, just as quiet as he was, "That I am not the type to bow under threats." His mouth twitched, calling her eyes before she could stop herself. He raised a hand to touch her, and she didn't realize it until his knuckles rested against the skin of her collarbone, no movement, just the tantalizing feeling of his skin on hers, blisteringly warm. She thought it was ridiculous that such a simple touch should garner such a reaction, but she couldn't help the way her heart sped at the contact.

"And what does make you bow, Miss Granger?" He asked, his hand unfurling so that his fingertips could trail up her throat, the feather-light sensation sending signals straight to her belly, rose tightening around her middle and dropping lower—it was ridiculous. No man had ever made her feel quite so mad.

She reached up to grab his wrist, and she thinks he could have fought against her with ease if he had wanted to but he allowed her to pull it away. Furiously, she spat, "Rest assured, Mr. Riddle, I will never bow to you."

"We'll see." He replied simply, a promise. One that curled inside her stomach and stretched downward, one that made her consider possibilities she truly should not be considering. He watched her for a moment in silence, as if he knew what she was thinking, before he asked very quietly, "Would you like me to leave?"

She was surprised but the question. Surprised enough that her eyes—which had dropped to his throat to avoid the heat of his gaze—snapped back up to meet his. "I would like you to die," She snapped.

Most people would likely be shocked, or at least offended. But Tom Riddle huffed a quiet laugh, his eyes settling over her shoulder for a moment, a strangely thoughtful expression on his face, before his eyes returned to hers. "I'll leave you to greet your friend," He told her, his eyes settling on her forehead as he lifted his hand to brush the curls off her face, drawing them back to join the hair that was still held back. For a moment, he allowed his fingers to thread into her locks, and she found herself frozen, staring at him wide eyed, caught between fury that he still thinks he is allowed to touch her and some other feeling, something darker and more shameful, something that bloomed inside her the moment his fingers found her wrist.

She didn't know what he was doing, anymore. She had known when he was pursuing Ginny that he was lying about something—what, she didn't know—and she had known it was likely he wanted to marry Ginny for connections sake. She knew he was sneaky and conniving, especially now that he made no attempt to hide himself from her. What she didn't know was why he was suddenly so invested in her, why he thought it necessary to seduce her when he was already well on his way to seducing the young Weasley girl. And she didn't know why she was allowing him to seduce her, either.

The moment of contact ended as soon as it had begun, and his hand returned to his side. "Good day, Miss Granger." He said, and he left.

"Where has Mr. Riddle gone?" Ginny asked when Hermione finally joined them in the house.

"He returned home," She said, "To allow us to greet Harry."

"He left?" Ginny echoed, "Without saying goodbye?"

He had said goodbye to Hermione, but she thought it best not to mention. Instead she shrugged, secretly liking the way Ginny looked slightly put out, because it prompted Harry to settle a hand on her shoulder. Except, he ruined it.

"That's the prat you're going to marry?" He asked, and Ginny bristled.

"Excuse me?" She reared back, "He hasn't proposed, but if I did choose to marry him, it would be none of your business."

"Alright," Harry acquiesced, "That's not what I meant—"

"No, you're always doing this, Harry," She seethed, "Every man I meet is a prat—am I supposed to be unmarried for the rest of my life, then?"


Hermione slipped out of the room for two reasons. The first being she was uninterested in hearing the two of them argue, and the second being her skin was still tingling in the places Tom had touched, and she needed a moment to collect her thoughts.

Harry and Ginny argued all day.

It was unusual, because the two of them always got along wonderfully, but Hermione had a feeling that Harry's arrival had set them off on the wrong foot. Riddle's blatant inference that Hermione was interested in Harry, Harry's comment about Tom Riddle being a prat, Ginny's own personal feelings—she wasn't surprised that these factors came together to cause a bit of an explosive reunion, but…

She wasn't sure how to continue forward. Her original plan had been to bring Harry back so he could ask Ginny to marry him and Hermione wouldn't have to worry about Tom Riddle anymore, but in light of recent events, she wasn't sure getting rid of Tom Riddle would be so simple.

With Harry back—and with Harry knowing that if he didn't act soon, Ginny would marry someone else—she wasn't worried about them. She knew after a while of arguments, the two of them would come to realize what they both wanted. She might've worried that Tom Riddle, now that he realized what was happening, would work against it. But he seemed relatively unaffected by Harry's arrival, and was instead solely focused on Hermione.

She didn't like it. Every other day he had visited he was entirely uninterested in her, focusing completely on Ginny and for the most part pretending Hermione didn't even exist. How is it, in the span of one conversation, his priorities completely change?

The sun has long since set, and the stars have come out to bear down upon her on the roof, but she still can't bring herself to get down and go to bed. She thinks about the timbre of his voice, the feather-light touches, his disgustingly inappropriate innuendos—

She wondered what he would do if they were ever alone—not just separate from surrounding ears, but hidden from surrounding eyes as well. Her fingers trailed across her collarbone and for a moment—because in the secrecy of her own mind, she needn't feel ashamed or worry about consequences—she imagined her fingers were his.

She trailed her fingers down the center of her chest, she imagined how his might burn through the thin fabric of her nightdress, spanning her hand across her stomach which twisted in knots at the very thought of his touch. She gripped at her nightgown, imagined it was him, pulling it up to expose her thighs to the moonlight. And when her fingers sought out the space between those things she could feel him beside her, his warm breath against her ear, his fingers diving into her soaking wet heat, "I would love to make you scream."

Her back arched against the feel of his hand, his fingers dragging up her slit, circling around her clit and dipping down to slide inside briefly before dragging up her slit again. She bit her lip, confining herself to gasps of pleasure, trying to remain quiet, unseen, unheard. As far as she knew, everyone was asleep, but lying exposed in the starlight didn't offer her any peace of mind as far as being caught was concerned. She heard his voice again, rasping at her ear, "What makes you bow?" And as his fingers swirled around her clit she just kept thinking you, you, you until her back arched once more and the stars that shone in the sky were suddenly trapped behind her eyelids, her heart thudding wildly in her chest and her breath short and quick.

When she was finished and her mind was no longer controlled by her lust she realized she was still alone. She sat up, wiping her fingers on her nightdress, feeling just as unsatisfied as she had been a moment before only now it was coupled with the frustration this wasn't something she could rub away herself—this lust, this wanting. It still coiled in her gut, dark and taunting, wondering how much better this might feel if it really was his fingers instead of her imagination.

"Oh, Hermione," She murmured to the stars, "You are in trouble now."

The next morning, Hermione was exhausted and angry and annoyed, and watching Harry and Ginny argue from across the property was not something she was hoping to see.

"You shouldn't get involved," Ron warned her from her side, watching the two of them alongside her. "If you keep pushing it, it might make Ginny marry Riddle out of spite."

"So you agree with me?" She prompted, turning to face him, "You don't think she should marry Riddle?"

Ron hesitated, picking at his vest for a moment before formulating his reply. "I think she would be very happy with Mr. Riddle," He said, ignoring Hermione when she muttered 'no, she wouldn't,' under her breath, "I think you would be unhappy."

Hermione frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"You haven't been this invested in a man since Krum," He told her, and she just barely stopped herself from saying 'I haven't been this invested in a man since you,' but she had never admitted to any feelings for him and she certainly wouldn't now. She found it easier to be around him without those types of thoughts as of late, and she refused to admit that it might be result of her thoughts being focused on another man. "And I'm not sure what happened there, but—"

"First of all," She interrupted, "You were overjoyed when I returned from Bulgaria without him, so don't pretend you disapprove," He gave her a sheepish smile. He had never liked Victor. "And nothing truly happened. He spoke of marriage and children and—"

"You do not wish to be married?" Ron asked.

She hesitated. "I didn't want marriage as he wanted it." She explained. And it was true. She thought perhaps she may want a child, but she wasn't interested in a whole litter of them. She had her family already, she didn't feel the need to add a whole new slew of children to it. She had never liked the idea of change, and life with Victor—living in Bulgaria with ten children and no possibility for an academic career—she never wanted that.

"And marriage as Mr. Riddle wants it?" He prompted, and she promptly choked on thin air. In all the thoughts she had entertained about Tom Riddle, marriage had never been one of them.

"Oh," She sputtered, "For God's sake, Ronald—"

"I just think you should be clear what your intentions are," He said quietly, calmly, trying to appease her anger, "For your own sake."

She fell silent, watching him run a hand through his ginger hair, remembering the way she used to fantasize about their marriage as a child. She had never truly gotten over her feelings for Ron, but in the moment, speaking about her prospective marriage with Tom Riddle—which would never happen—she didn't feel the spike of anger she usually felt. That desperate question—how can you talk about my marriage when you are the only one I want to marry?—it didn't rise now. In fact her only questions now were about Mr. Riddle.

He didn't seem like the marrying type, truly. At first she could see it—after all, he was charming and he focused his attention on Ginny, on winning her affections. She could see the two of them getting married, even if she didn't like it. But now, thinking upon his conduct with her, specifically, he was too dark, too flirtatious, too forward. How could that type of man ever want to marry?

It must be a power play, then. The Weasleys were well known and well connected, so why wouldn't he zero in on the youngest, most impressionable Weasley to solidify his link? Was he the type to want children, an heir, one to carry on his legacy once he reached whatever he was straining to attain? And what about Ginny, after he has her, after he has the power he seeks, what will become of her?

She isn't sure why the thought happens upon her, but she considers—once Ginny has played her part in Tom Riddle's game—she might be of better use to him dead.

"Hermione?" Ron prompts, seeing her suddenly horrified expression.

"You are always such an idiot, Ron," she snapped, and he looked both confused and offended, "But sometimes you are very wise." The final statement is muttered, barely able to be heard, especially over the rushing in her head.

"I must get it from you," He weakly jokes, laying his hand on her arm, "Are you alright?"

"Excuse me," She says, pushing away from him and running across the stretch of land that separated her from Ginny and Harry, the latter of the two storming away. She catches Ginny by the arm before she can follow suit—"Ginny," she gasps, deciding she's done with sitting on the sidelines and hoping everything will work out, deciding she's done patiently waiting for Ginny to come to her senses, "I need to speak with you."

"Hermione, are you—" She begins to ask, but Hermione cuts her off.

"You cannot marry Riddle." She says. Ginny's expression darkens.

"Not this again," She mutters.

"This isn't about my dislike for him—" It absolutely was, along with the very real possibility that he may just dispose of her when he's done with her, "—This is about you and Harry—"

"Hermione please—" She begins, pulling away, but Hermione grasps her by both arms.

"He loves you, Gin," She stresses, "I invited him here not because of any fondness but because he has been in love with you for years—and I know you love him too. You—"

"I know"

"Cannot marry Riddle when—when—wait…" She stutters, trailing off and staring at Ginny in confusion, "You know?" Her grip on Ginny's arms slackened in her dumbfounded shock, and Ginny took the opportunity to step back.

"Harry told me last night."

Hermione was a bit speechless, if she was honest, but she did manage to ask, "Then why are you fighting?" Ginny was silent. "Do you love Riddle?" She pressed.

Ginny hesitated, "I think that I could," She answered.

"But you do love Harry?" Hermione clarified.

"Harry cannot just show up out of nowhere whenever a man enters my life and demand that I leave him!" Ginny snaps, "I am courting Mr. Riddle. If he decides to propose, I am marrying Mr. Riddle. Mr. Riddle is not afraid to express his interest in me, nor does believe he has the right to tell me who I can and cannot spend my time with!" Hermione could only imagine the way Harry had confessed his feelings, if Ginny's anger was anything to go by. "Hermione, I appreciate you looking out for me, but this is none of your—"

"Tom Riddle is not who you think he is—" She started, but Ginny wasn't listening.

"You spoke to him once, Hermione!" She countered, "The truth is you don't know anything about him." Hermione was ready to protest that she knew quite a lot more than Ginny seemed to think she did, but she couldn't get a word in edgewise, "Did you know he grew up in an orphanage?"

Hermione was contemplatively quiet.

"He worked his way up out of nothing," Ginny said, "He found his father when he got out of the orphanage, when he passed he received his inheritance and he moved here—" Hermione was baffled that Ginny would say that without a hint of suspicion in her tone, "—He's intelligent and ambitious and—and—"

"And he's there." Hermione finished dryly, raising a tired eyebrow. Ginny glared at her.

"Not all of us are comfortable with becoming spinsters, Hermione—"

She ignored the blatant dig, "Harry wants to marry you—"

"He hasn't asked me to marry him!" Ginny cut in. Hermione wanted to punch Harry. "I can't wait forever!"

Hermione grit her teeth and said nothing, watching Ginny whirl around and storm away. She ran a hand through her mane of curls, pulling the tie out when her hand got caught halfway through, allowing her hair to fall about her shoulders.

She was a pathetic excuse for a cupid.

Tom Riddle joined the Weasleys for dinner that evening, and it was the most painfully awkward time of Hermione's life.

She hadn't spoken to him since Harry's arrival, since the night she thought of him mid-orgasm. She had thought that, perhaps, Ginny and Harry would fall in love and Riddle would have nothing to do with the family any more, but as it turns out, he's sitting beside her at the table. Molly Weasley rushes around the table—insisting she helps the maids as they serve the food—and Hermione is desperately trying to ignore the heat of his gaze. He huffs a laugh—he's laughing at her—and it takes all her willpower to ignore him, focusing on Harry and Ginny as they sit beside each other, dutifully ignoring one another. Ron sits further down the table, Molly and Arthur at either end of the table. She can't focus on the food with Tom Riddle's heavy presence at her side.

"So, Mr. Riddle," Harry begins, glaring at him from across the table. Tom seems unimpressed. "What is it you do, exactly?"

"I'm something of an entrepreneur," He answers vaguely, a pleasant smile playing on his lips.

"And what does that mean?" Harry presses. Ginny slams her fork down on the table.

"Harry, this is a conversation over dinner, not an interrogation—"

"I'm not interrogating—"

They continue to argue—honestly, what could they have expected at this point—and Tom's low voice, hidden from any listening ears by the ruckus of Ginny and Harry's fighting, speaks to her, "Not hungry?"

She hadn't touched her food. She turns her head to set her eyes on him, to try to communicate without really speaking to him how much she loathed his presence.

"You seem…distracted." He observes, looking exceedingly pleased with himself. And she knows that, even if her suspicions of his intentions with Ginny are ludicrous, one thing she knows for sure is he is desperate for power. Ginny can't see it herself, but everything she told her about him only made Hermione more certain. He grew up with nothing, sought out his father(who suddenly died so that Riddle could receive his inheritance, as if that wasn't suspicious) and now sought out connections with the Weasleys. She could see it even in his interactions with her—the way he enjoyed her discomfort, the way he took pleasure in disorienting her, in disgusting her. And suddenly, fueled by her own anger and pride, she had an idea.

Ginny didn't seem to want to break the proposal with Tom because she thought it might be her only chance at marriage. Harry didn't want to propose while she was still with Tom. Tom Riddle didn't want to break his possible connection to the Weasley family, but—

If he wanted to seduce her—or attempt to, because she was to angry at the moment to admit he was succeeding—then she could play that game, too.

"Not distracted," She says, setting down her fork because her stomach is going crazy and she knows she cannot eat a thing, "Disappointed."

He seems intrigued, his smile giving way to an expression of raw interest, and she's not sure he's aware of the way he subtly leans in toward her. "Oh?" He prompts.

She hums in agreement, "When you said you could make me scream, I took it as a promise. I suppose I was wrong."

He dropped his fork.

"Ginevra!" Molly Weasley finally snapped, "You are making a spectacle of yourself. And look!" She gestured to Tom where he sat, expression caught between shock and something close to anger, "You've upset Mr. Riddle!"

"I apologize," Ginny said, sitting back in her chair with her eyes trained on her lap.

"No, I understand," Tom replied quietly, demurely, like he was planning something, "Mr. Potter has made his feelings and intentions explicitly clear."

Ginny turned to Harry, "Did you speak to Mr. Riddle?" She snapped.


Another argument broke out, this time due to Riddle's comment, and as soon as the two began arguing and Molly Weasley's voice broke out to try and calm them, Tom's voice found her, wrapping around her like a vice, "You should watch your tongue, Miss Granger," He warned, "Lest you find yourself in a situation you can't escape from."

"I don't recall saying anything about escaping," She replied, turning her head toward him.

"You did tell me you wouldn't bow to me," He reminded her, his voice a husky whisper.

"Perhaps you'll be the one bowing to me," She countered, enjoying the way his hands tightened around the arms of his chair and he leaned toward her, "I can think of plenty of things for you to do at my feet."

He smiled again, that same wide, wicked smile that he had only ever offered her, and she knew she was enjoying this far too much. Her goal was to regain some semblance of power, to possibly even sway his interest away from Ginny so that she could feel free to marry whomever she loves instead of whomever will have her. She had known, in the back of her mind, that swaying his mind away from Ginny meant swaying his mind toward her, but she found—at the moment—she didn't particularly mind.

Dangerous waters, she lectured herself. You're going to drown.

"Oh, Miss Granger," He purred, his hands twitching as if he wanted to touch her and he was only just holding himself back, "You have no idea what I would do to you."

Her breath is stolen from her by the look in his eyes, and she can still dimly hear the argument raging over the dinner table as she thinks perhaps he's right. She has no idea what she is getting into, what this man is capable of, what he is planning, but she thinks she may have already drowned, already been washed away by this insatiable lust, but the rush of power she feels when he grins at her like he wants to devour her.

"Because I love you!" She hears Harry confess, "I want you to marry me—"

"Well it's too late for that," Ginny says, "Because I'm marrying Mr. Riddle."

Hermione's eyes snap to where Ginny is sitting, looking a bit smug but mostly furious, her glare focused on Harry who is sitting beside her with his mouth hung open. She glances briefly at Riddle, who's expression has suddenly arranged into a complicated mask that she cannot read, and then back at Ginny, who has turned her eyes to glance between Hermione and Tom.

"Excuse me," Hermione says, standing and leaving her untouched plate behind as she hurries out for some fresh air. Had he already proposed, then? It didn't mean that the wedding was bound to happen—engagements were broken all the time—but it did suddenly set her on edge, made her feel a bit out of breath and—why was she so panicked?

Because she was flirting with her sister and best friend's betrothed? Because she was increasingly, increasingly enraptured with her sister and best friend's betrothed? Because her sister and best friend's betrothed may or may not be an evil, power-hungry bastard?

She leaned against the wall jut outside the backdoor and took deep breaths. "Dangerous waters," She repeated to herself, aloud this time.

"Do you often speak to yourself?" A voice whispered by her ear, and she jerked violently away. He let her, smiling as she caught her breath.

"What are you doing—did you leave just after me?" She asked. He leaned against the wall beside her, his body acing her, caging her in.

"I said I would make sure you were all right," He explained, "Why did you leave?" He asks, his eyes flitting across her features, "Have you lost your nerve?"

"I have not lost my nerve—" She spat, forcing herself not to step away because he hadn't touched her yet, and she knew he was waiting for an excuse to.

"I never asked her to marry me," He cut in, his lips quirking up as if he had sad something amusing, "Is that why you're nervous?" He breathed, "Are you jealous?"

"Why are you speaking to me?" She finally snapped, because she thinks maybe she is jealous, maybe she wants Ginny to marry harry as much for her friends' sake as for her own. "I loathe you." She seethes, making to step around him and hurry back inside where he has to keep up pretenses and he can't—

His hand spans her abdomen before she can pass him and he pushes her quite roughly back against the wall. It's the first time he's made contact that is more than a brush of fingers or a brief moment of skin on skin, and she feels the muscles in her abdomen contract, her breath catching in her throat as he surrounds her, keeping her pinned against the wall with the pressure of his hand on her stomach.

"Now, Miss Granger," He purred, "I did promise to make you scream."

"I'm beginning to think the only way you could make me scream, Mr. Riddle, is through violent torture—"

His hands moved, the one pressed against her stomach sliding around to her waist, his other hand grasping her hip, pressing himself against her in a way that was both hideously inappropriate and exciting, her stomach twisting and her groin all but throbbing at the contact. His lips sought out her ear and he rasped, voice like molasses, "Is that what you want?"

Her heart was beating so strongly she could feel it in every inch of her body, threatening to break out of her chest. He was so close, so close she could reach out and grab him if she was capable of moving, she could smell him, she could feel the entire expanse of his chest pressing into hers—

"Are you afraid?" He asks, his thumbs stroking back and forth across the fabric of her dress, his lips bushing against the shell of her ear while he spoke, "You have never believed I am a gentleman, have you Miss Granger?" One of his hands slowly dragged up her front until his palm was pressed against the bare flesh of her chest, listening to her heartbeat slamming against her ribcage. "You fear what my intentions may be with your dearest sister, with your pseudo-family," His hand which had settled against her chest rose, until his fingers circled her throat. "But what about what my intentions may be with you, love?" She sucked in a shaky breath, ignoring the way his words wound their way into her ear and shot straight to the heat between her legs.

"I am not afraid of you, Mr. Riddle," She spoke surprisingly evenly, despite the heart she knew he could feel pounding out of her throat, "I simply know that men like you are willing to do anything to get what they want."

"There are no men like me," He told her.

"Monsters, then." She amended, and he pulled his mouth away form her ear so she could see another one of those wicked smiles grace his lips. He looked thoroughly amused.

"And what if I said that I wanted you?" He prompted. She bit her tongue in an attempt to offset the flipping of her stomach.

"I would say that's unfortunate, given the fact that you are betrothed to my sister." She intoned. She was a bit thrown off by his responding laughter.

"Oh, is that where you draw the line?" He asks, his hand at her throat shifting, turning her jaw so that she bore her neck to him, and he ran his nose down the column of her throat, and when he continued to speak, his hot breath spilled over her shoulder and her chest. "But you are perfectly willing to drive a man to take you over the dining room table if he is only courting your sister."

The image is playing in her mind before she can stop it. "You wouldn't have." She told him, mostly to drive the image out.

"Wouldn't I?" He asked, his lips brushing against her pulse as he spoke, "You said yourself I am willing to do anything to get what I want," She let out a shaking breath and in response his hand at her waist drifted down to clutch at her skirts, pulling her so tightly against him she could scarcely breathe.

"I don't care what you want," She told him, finally lifting her hands to flatten them against his chest and push. He did pull back, but only enough for her to look him in the eyes, but it helped that his breath was no longer passing across her skin, leaving goosebumps in its wake. "I find you repulsive," She spat, finding satisfaction in the downturn of his lips, "You're arrogant and crude and horrid, I would sooner throw myself off the roof than ever give myself to you!"

And for good measure, she lifted her foot and slammed her heel down on his toes, and taking advantage of the distraction of pain, she also shoved him away from her as hard as she could. The sun had set, and the dark felt miserably cold without the heat of his hands, but she welcomed it. It cleared her head, for a moment.

"You insufferable—" He stopped himself, glaring murderously at her from a foot away, leaning over to hold his injured foot before remembering himself and letter drop, ignoring the pain.

"Go ahead," She prompted, "Say it. Don't pretend to be a gentleman now."

"Don't pretend you want me to," He fired back, keeping his voice low in spite of the fact that she had raised hers, "Since the moment I arrived you have been waiting for me to stop pretending. Am I not simply giving you what you want?"

"As if you care what anyone around you wants," She scoffed, "I know your story. You were an orphan, you killed your father and you—" He reinvaded her space to place a hand over her mouth, but she fought against him, her knee ramming into his stomach, "—came here to continue your climb to glory—" He grabbed both her wrists and pinned her against the wall once more—this time much less intimate and much more violent. "Were you planning on killing Ginny, too? When you were done with her?"

"Kill her?" He echoed, his expression suggesting he was about to disagree but then he reconsidered it, pausing for a moment before admitting, "Most likely, yes."

"Oh you evil, foul—"

"My father was a coward who left my mother and I to die—he wasn't worthy of the space he occupied," He explained lowly, "If you had not intervened, I likely would have married Miss Weasley and disposed of her after she played her part. I won't deny this." He paused for a moment, looking very thoughtful, and when he met her eyes again, he said, "She wouldn't have suffered."

She jerked her wrists violently but he held fast, "I don't care that she wouldn't suffer!" She snapped, "I care that she would die!"

"Do you think that I'll kill you?" He asks her suddenly, his grip still bruising her wrists even as his thumbs began to stroke back and forth over her skin. "Is that why you resist this?"

The thought hadn't really occurred to her. Even when considering the possibility—now the fact—that Tom Riddle may be a killer, she had never stopped to consider he may kill her. Not because she thought he wouldn't do it, necessarily, but because she hadn't seen herself as something important enough to kill. In fact, she had been a bit too distracted by his physical advantages to even consider that he may actually mean to cause her harm.

"I have never found anyone who captivates me as much as you do, Miss Granger," He admitted quietly, for the first time sounding soft. She bit the inside and met his eyes, trying to ignore the stuttering of her heart to discern if he was lying.

"We've only spoken twice." She pointed out.

"But we have observed each other for much longer." He countered, his thumbs still stroking distracting circles into her wrists. "No," He murmured, "I don't want to kill you,"

Voices. Echoing from inside the house, accompanied by fast approaching footsteps, Hermione ripped herself from his hold and hurried to the door, peeking inside to see Ginny and Harry on their way outside. She swore—because not only did she not want to be seen alone with Tom Riddle, but she also didn't want to interrupt what may be Harry and Ginny's chance to finally get over themselves.

So, without wondering and without caring if Riddle was following, she hurried to the vines on the side of the house and began climbing, until she had thrown herself onto the roof. Riddle had followed, because he popped up over the edge of the roof and said, "We weren't finished—" But she shushed him, seizing him by his arms and pulling him down beside her. "Miss Granger—" He began, but she pushed him onto his back, laying her hand over his mouth to keep him silent.

He stared up at her with wide eyes—not wide with anger or shock but something Hermione couldn't exactly focus on at the moment. She knows he could easily throw her off of him—he could probably through her off the roof if he wanted—but she also knows he won't.

"Ginny," She hears Harry's voice, and she meets Tom's eyes without really meaning to. His eyebrows have drawn together, not in anger but something akin to confusion, and she slowly pulls her hand away from his mouth. "It was never my intention to offend you,"

Tom's fingers wrap around her wrist before she can completely retreat her hand. He kissed the palm, the first time his lips have touched her with purpose, and she feels those telltale butterflies fluttering in her stomach again. She remembers Ron's words—you should be clear what your intentions are—and she found herself caught between what she was certain she wanted and what she was certain was smart.

There was a lot she didn't know about Tom Riddle. But there was a lot she knew as well. She knew he was a liar and a murderer. She knew he was ambitious, he was selfish, he was intelligent and intense and seductive. She knew he was determined and decisive, and she knew that when he told her he wanted her she wanted to believe him.

"Well, you certainly did," She heard Ginny fire back as Tom's hands settled on her waist. In the silence, unable to make noise lest Harry and Ginny know they are listening in, she finds herself unable to distract herself with words, so all she has to focus on is the strange, electric feeling where his hands are gliding up her back.

"Please don't marry him." Harry begs. Hermione finds herself, for the first time since Tom Riddle has begun making advances, reaching for him as well. She supports herself with a hand on his chest and her other hand winds her fingers into his midnight hair. His eyes flutter at the sensation, his hands going still at her back.

"And marry you?" Ginny asks. Hermione trails her fingertip down the side of his face until she reaches his mouth, her index finger running across his lower lip. "You'll leave again, and I'll be here, waiting—I can't wait here forever!"

His hand jumps to the back of her neck and he pulls her in to kiss her. Her hand cradled his cheek, her mind going blissfully silent as his lips pulled at hers, his teeth pulling at her lower lip and his tongue flicking out to soothe it. Her hand moves to cradle his jaw and then thread through the hair behind his ear and he finally flips them so that he is trapping her against the roof beneath them.

"I know," She vaguely hears Harry reply, but her hands are clutching at Tom's hair, his lips working viciously against hers, his hands pulling up her skirts, so she isn't paying much mind to anything else. "I know I have no right to ask this of you, but…Ginny, I love you."

Her skirts are halfway up her thighs and she doesn't even care how horrendously inappropriate what they're doing is, because all she really cares about is the taste of his tongue against hers and the feeling of his hands, which have risen again to her waist to hold her against him when she arches her back.

"I know I've made a mistake waiting so long," Harry continues, and Tom rips away from her mouth to trail wet kisses down her throat. Hermione bites her lip hard to keep herself from making any noise. This was so much better than anything she had imagined. "I just…I wanted to wait. Until I had more money, until I could buy us a house—in Godric's Hollow, where my parents used to live—"

"Oh, Harry…" Ginny breathed.

Hermione lifts her hips to press herself more fully against him, and his teeth and tongue meet her shoulder in a way that is somehow both painful and pleasurable. She manages to choke back the moan working its way up her throat, but she's not sure how long she can be so quiet when his hand returns to her bare thigh, dragging up toward her center.

"I just wanted to be able to ask you…when I could give you a life," Harry said, his voice still drifting up to the couple on the roof even as they paid it no mind. Tom sucked in a breath between his teeth when he felt how wet she was, sliding his finger inside her and curling it as he retracted his hand. Hermione let out a shaky breath, desperately trying to stay silent.

"Harry, I—"

"I understand if you want to say no," Harry continued, and Hermione thought that she should probably feel guilty—not only because she was doing this when her friends were within hearing distance, but also because she was risking potentially interrupting a very important, romantic moment. But to be honest, she's uncertain anything could make her want to pull away from Tom when his thumb began tracing slow circles into her clit, pressing kisses against her throat. "But I love you. And I want you to marry me. But I wanted it to be when I could give you the life you deserve."

"Harry," Ginny started.

"I won't ask you to wait forever." He told her, "I won't ask you to wait at all. Enough waiting. If you'll have me, we can get married tomorrow—we can go on the road together until I have enough money to buy that house in Godric's Hollow and we can—" Their conversation stopped there, and Hermione thought maybe Ginny had kissed him, because there was very little that could silence Harry once he got started.

But now it was so dreadfully quiet, and tom's fingers were steadily drawing her to her climax—feeling so much better than that night she had spent here alone, so much more than she could have imagined—And the silence is weighing on her, causing her heart to beat wildly in her chest, so when Tom adds another finger she can't quite stop the sound that tumbles out of her lips.

"Did you hear that?" She hears Harry say. Tom's hand is pressed against her mouth now, huffing out a quiet laugh and his lips are by her ear.

"Quiet, love," He breathes, his fingers pumping in and out and his thumb pressing into her clit, "I can't make you scream just yet," Her hands lay over his, pressing it against her mouth because she doesn't trust herself to stay quiet anymore. She thinks she can feel him smiling where his cheek is pressed against hers.

"I didn't hear anything," She hears Ginny say, sounding slightly breathless. Tom huffs another silent laugh against her ear. He's enjoying this, obviously, enjoying unravelling her when she can't make a sound—it probably plays on his power complex, but she would be lying if she said she didn't like it, too.

"It must've been an animal or something," She hears Harry say, and when Tom laughs again she moves her hand from atop his to thread her fingers through his hair and pull. He stops laughing then, dragging his teeth across her throat, curling his fingers inside her. She squeezed her eyes shut when she came, choking back most of her moan, the rest muffled by his hand while his other hand continued to stroke through her orgasm.

"I never said," She hears Ginny say, "I love you, too"

Hermione meets Tom's burning gaze as she tries to quietly catch her breath. His hand had left her mouth to cradle her jaw, his thumb moving back and forth across her cheek. She thought that she saw something almost gentle in his eyes, and in the way his eyes danced at her sigh when he withdrew his hand from her center. He didn't wipe them off like she would have, but raised his fingers to press against her mouth. She parted her lips, allowing his fingers to slip in and wrapping her tongue around them. When he made to pull his hand back, she briefly caught his fingers between her teeth, smiling when she saw the way his eyes flashed.

His hands cupped her cheeks, his lips meeting hers in a way that stole her breath away once more. His teeth nipped at her lips, his hands angling her mouth against his. Her dress is still piled up around her hips, so her leg is free to wrap around his hip and pull him closer.

Something tickled at her cheek. She turns her head, pulling her lips from his, and sees the mangy barn cat's face directly beside hers.

She jerks violently, pushing against Tom harder than she truly meant to, startled by the cat.

Tom fell off the roof.

"Tom!" She calls on instinct, pulling her skirts wildly down over her legs and rushing to the edge of the roof. She hears Harry and Ginny—because of course they're still down there—losing their minds over the man who just fell off the roof beside them. Hermione hurries down the vines and rushes to Tom's side.

"Hermione?" Harry calls when she reaches Tom's side, who at least isn't dead or bleeding but is still lying on the ground and he's glaring at her. "What were the two of you doing on the roof?"

"Did you push him off the roof?" Ginny asks.

"No I did not push him off the roof," Hermione snaps at the same time Tom says, "Yes, she did."

"Are you alright?" She asks, kneeling by his side, her hands fluttering around him, at a loss of what to do, "Oh, God, of course you aren't all right, you just fell off the roof," Tom snorted a laugh.

"What is going on out here?" Molly Weasley arrived at the back door, her voice booming.

"Tom fell off the roof!" Hermione answered, and as Tom pushed himself into a sitting position her hands were still fluttering about his torso, trying to help him.

"What?" Molly screeched, "What was he doing on the roof?" She hurried forward, helping Tom to his feet and helping to the back door, "Let me take a look at you—what on earth were you doing on the roof—"

Hermione meant to follow after them—it was her fault he had fallen, after all—but Ginny and Harry stood in her way. "Excuse me," She said, trying to duck around them, but they stayed in her way.

"Were you…listening in on—" Harry started.

"No!" Hermione blatantly lied, "No, we were just…stargazing—"

"Did you call him Tom?" Ginny asked.

"Oh for God's sake—"

"I'm not angry—" Ginny insisted, "It's alright, Harry and I—I just—don't you hate—"

"Oh for God's sake—" Hermione scoffed, pushing between the two of them and ignoring the way the two of them stared after her, hurrying through the back door and checking in each room until she saw Tom sitting back on the sofa in the sitting room. He turned his head to watch her enter, and made to sit up. She hurried to his side, placing a hand on his chest and pushing him back down on the couch, ignoring the way he glared at her for it.

"I'm sorry," She said, "The cat startled me." He raised an eyebrow, "To be fair, all the things I know you've done, the least you deserve is to be pushed off a roof." His jaw twitched, "But I am still sorry. Could you please speak so I know you are able to?"

"Take your hand off my chest so I can sit up," He ordered her. She frowned.

"You could be injured." She argued, shaking her head.

He sighed deeply—he had probably gotten a lecture from Molly already, and had been hoping Hermione would allow him to sit up without a fight—And he settled to turning his head to face her where she was sat upon the floor at his side.

"I am sorry," She insisted, "Say you forgive me."

His lips quirked upwards at the order, his hand wrapping around her wrist that was settled on his chest. She thought he might try to pull it away, so she was prepared to fight him, but he didn't. "Marry me." He said.

She hesitated. Marriage had not been something she worried about for some time now, so she had trained herself to regard men without thoughts of marriage. It made sense that he should ask her now—She was technically a Weasley, after all, though not by blood, and she was the only available 'Weasley' woman now that Ginny had found her love elsewhere. If he wanted to attain whatever connections the Weasley's had, marrying her would be his best bet.

He might still decide to kill her, later, but then she could always just push him off the roof again.

"That doesn't sound like 'I forgive you,'" She answered instead.

"I forgive you" He countered, his thumb stroking back and forth, a calming gesture that counteracted the intensity of his gaze, "Marry me."

The pair of them didn't notice Molly Weasley hustle through the door and backtrack upon seeing them, hiding herself in the hall just outside. She saw Harry and Ginny huddled together just down the hall, peeking in through the other doorway to the sitting room.

"Alright," Hermione agreed quietly, unaware to the three just outside the sitting room listening in. Molly Weasley nearly dropped the first-aid supplies she had gathered, while Ginny wildly gestured for her to stay quiet from across the hall. Hermione glances over her shoulder before she continues, and catching sight of the shadows falling across the floorboards of the corridor, she leans in close and speaks quietly enough that they won't hear. "Only because I'm still counting on you to make me scream,"

His thumb halts its movement against her wrist, and he's suddenly sporting that wicked smile once again.

Molly drops all her supplies, and Hermione thinks she must've heard her.

lol whoops

I mean this was kind of regency? sort of…vaguely….don't worry about it

ANYWAY yet another prompt from tumblr that I've been meaning to write and here it is! 14000 words later yeah this was a bit longer than intended and like idk what happened really i don't remember half of what i wrote its like some weird fever dream

HOPE ITS NOT TOO SHITTY i love you all thanks for reading my trash ur all angels or devils idk its up 2 u

please review!

(wow this is a short authors note i think I'm just tired and also i already wrote 14000 words so its like lol…..what else do i write how do i wr tie e wo r ds ? ?/ ?)

Also I didn't proof read it….im sorry…..i should proof read things but i cant do it….no