You were the shadow to my light
Did you feel us?
Another start, you fade away
Afraid our aim is out of sight
Wanna see us
Alive


"Where did you go, flower?"

A bloom of goose bumps covered Hermione's shoulders as Thoros whispered his question into her skin. She stared out the open window onto the grounds of the manor their contingent was currently occupying. There was only a thin sliver of the moon left to illuminate the garden paths below, but she could still make out the lines of the Dark Lord and a few others sitting in the gazebo near the lake. Without the power of that light from above, she knew her Tom, the one that brought her to this verse in the first place, would be almost nonexistent.

Her bare skin heated to match the temperature of the man leaning against her back, and she leaned into his chest, pulling the sheet up further over herself to cocoon the warmth of their bodies. "I wish he would let me join him on those meetings."

"Our Lord?" Thoros glanced out of the window. He chuckled as he resumed kissing any exposed skin he could reach: her shoulders, her neck, her palm when she brought her hand up behind her. "He would not risk you."

"Yet-" Hermione's protests were interrupted with a hitched breath as Thoros's hands started to wander as diligently as his lips. "Yet he insists on meeting with those... those scoundrels alone."

"Do you trust him? Do you trust me?"

"Hardly."

Thoros chuckled, a sound that thrummed through his throat and over Hermione's shoulder blades before he sunk his teeth into one of them a bit harder than necessary. "Ah, cheeky witch. Smart witch. But your resolve fades as swiftly as the moonlight."

The weight of truth behind the offhand comment filled Hermione's stomach with a sea of stones, cascading like a tidal wave until they settled into every crevice of her sanity, filling those edges she'd allow to go soft. She turned in her husband's arms to pull her gaze away from the man who was nothing like the one she'd known in her world.

"Another month has passed," she said, partly to stem the flow of intrusive thoughts within her, and partly to stop his distracting and wandering hands. "You've earned the answer to another question."

Since Hermione tumbled into the garden behind a burning Nott Manor, an invisible to everyone but her specter of Tom Riddle alongside her, and swiftly risen in the ranks to stand beside the leader of a quiet resistance and his right hand man years ago, the couple played a game. The magic that brought her to the parallel universe was nebulous, and dangerous to say the least, which halted the ability for her to answer many questions. But she allowed Thoros one more question for every month she stayed. They didn't know when or if she would fade back to a world with a version of Tom Riddle that was devoted to an entirely different cause.

In this world Hermione was certain it was she who was more of a monster. Another piece of her past self faded away each day.

Thoros was silent as his face fell from a hazy mirth, clouded by arousal and sleep, to a focused stare at his fingertips tracing the moles and scars on Hermione's arms and back. Seamlessly those fingers traced from one soft plane to another, following the line of skin up her throat to cup her chin and turn her towards him in a languid kiss. His dark hair obscured the last hints of light from the balcony window, long locks sweeping over her cheeks and forehead as he turned his body to cover hers, careful to not lose contact beneath the sheets as he used his considerable strength to twist her smaller body. Naked and breathing heavily from the moment of exertion, Thoros rested on his elbows, forearms slipping beneath Hermione's torso to completely circle her.

Now, with their eyes meeting gaze for gaze, she caught the true intensity he radiated. She'd never had to remind him that he could ask another question before. Hermione was certain he and the Voldemort of this world planned several questions in advance to glean what they could from their partner about the world she'd come from, an effort to not dilute the fabric of time more than it already had been, and to respect her privacy, as she had theirs on so many matters.

"Thoros?" she asked when he remained silent. His eyes didn't stray from her face but they were unfocused now. She lifted a hand from his chest up to his face, running her thumb over the lips she'd just been kissing.

"It's enough to have you here," he said slowly. "Each time you answer our question, I feel we lose another part of you."

Swallowing down the lump in her throat, Hermione didn't know what to say. She was saved by the return of their third bedmate.

"You're awake," Voldemort said as he moved to disrobe in front of his dressing cabinet. The layers of cloth moved like shadows behind him, soaking all the light from the window outside. The man beneath moved almost as fluidly, the faint glow of his skin ethereal in contrast. Hermione remembered the taught snakeskin of what her Tom had become, and again was thankful this world had no record of Horcruxes. Her Voldemort was near perfect and immortal through other means; means no less violent but nowhere near as harmful to his own body. Elizabeth Bathory and Ivan the Terrible in her word had been onto something, after all.

A flash of the last set of drugged criminals flew through her mind, subdued by her potions talents. She tried to remember the heinous crimes those men and women committed before they were drained to extend her Lord's life further.

"Awake and waiting," Hermione confirmed as she held a hand out to the third piece of her heart. "Your meeting with the vampires was...?"

He didn't respond until he'd removed most of the rings from his hands, placing them in a locked case. The faint glow dissipated as the magic of the metal and gems were removed from his skin, the added protections she had crafted herself for those meetings he would not let her join. If any of their enemies or sometimes-friends knew the Dark Lord's right hand potioneer and advisor came through a hole in the universe then there would be an arms race to dissect why she'd fallen through.

"Satsifactory, my dear," he said quietly, moving to slide next to Thoros and Hermione, Thoros still laying atop of their wife. The chill lingering on his body soaked into the sheets.

Twisting so she could lay between them, Thoros again at her back, she ran her hands over Voldemort's face and tried to read as much as she could. "What did-"

"There will be time to review the meeting in the morning, Hermione," Voldemort said with a smile, stilling her hands with his own. "For now, sleep."

She bit her lip to stop the list of questions in her mind from falling out: Will they allow you to hunt on their land? Did you meet with their leader or simply another contingency? Is their hierarchy what I suspected, matriarchal? and simply said, "Of course, love."

Her vision of the window was obstructed by the men surrounding her, their arms and legs an endless loop of protection around each other only shared in this small sanctuary. She couldn't see the faint wisp of Tom Riddle, Jr. sitting on the window ledge, facing out to the sky, and only visible when the clouds moved away from the moon.


song: Faded by Alan Walker requested on tumblr by faerose06. Prompted by Shayalonnie. Posted to tumblr 12.28.2016