A/N: Alright, so this idea was suggested to me, but I honestly cannot remember who it was, so let me know if it was you! I am going to leave the pairing open for now to try and keep you in suspense, but it is not going to be a Tomione. I really hope that this whets your appetite for the story. I usually try to have a few chapters in the queue before posting a new story, but I am just so excited by the idea that I am posting tonight...hoping that I can update every few days or so, but no promises. You can follow me on tumblr (nauticalparamour) where I post story updates, sneak peeks, and answer questions.
Please let me know what you thought of the prologue and be on the lookout for the next chapter soon!
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The war was supposed to end when Harry killed Voldemort. It wasn't supposed to stretch on and on until Hermione was separated from everyone that she loved or cared for.
Harry had died and then come back to life in the final battle. Her whole world had come crashing down, only to have a flicker of hope once again. They'd killed Voldemort's final horcrux, Nagini, and they knew that the man was now mortal once again. Harry, ever so brave, met Voldemort head on. Their spells met in the air in a brilliant display of the priori incantatem, locking the two foes in a seemingly endless limbo.
Until both of the spells rebounded, ricocheting back on their casters. Both Voldemort and Harry had been killed instantaneously. Her hope was dashed again.
She'd expected that the Death Eaters would have dropped their wands, having realized that their seemingly infallible, unkillable leader was finally dead, their cause in ruins. But they'd kept fighting. The Battle of Hogwarts raged on for several hours, until both sides finally retreated.
Hermione had found that so many of her comrades were dead, Tonks and Lupin most notably. For a while she had Ron, but then he was killed one day as well, when they were out looking for food. Hermione wasn't sure if any of the Weasleys were even alive now. Her parents had been killed before she could send them on their merry way, with no memories of their daughter, to Australia, by Death Eaters.
She'd met back up with Kingsley Shacklebolt, after Ron, but he'd lost his will to fight. Wizarding Britain was in ruins, the Ministry no longer functioned, and he was going to get out of the country and go to America. He offered to bring her with him, but she couldn't leave this world. Not like this.
After, when she was crying herself to sleep night after night, she regretted that decision. She should have started over, somewhere else. For a few months, she lived in the tent that she carried around in her beaded bag, before she was sure that enough time had passed and she could go back to Grimmauld Place.
The old townhouse was empty when she returned, and although it was no longer under fidelus, the blood wards were still strong. It hadn't taken her long in the library to figure out how to get the house to yield to her. She was sure it had something to do with Harry's death...maybe the magic knew that he would have left everything he had to her.
It was a lonely existence in the musty old townhouse. Hermione made the decision to leave the first floor untouched. It had been sacked, and she didn't want any intruders to think that someone had come back and began inhabiting it again. No, it was better if it seemed abandoned.
As for her, she spent most of her time hiding out in one of the bedrooms on the top floor, previously inhabited by the twins, if all the scorch marks on the floor were anything to go by. During the day, she might creep downstairs to get new books from the library. She felt completely helpless. The Order of the Phoenix had gone to ash, and everyone was just fighting for themselves now. She had no hope of healing from the wound the Voldemort had left on the Earth.
Hermione thought about Voldemort a lot. How was it possible that one incredibly angry man had ruined so many lives? How had he gotten so many powerful families on his side? What had made him the way that he was, what would possess him to create seven horcruxes? She couldn't imagine what was going on in his psyche that would have damaged him so much.
The problem was that she couldn't stop thinking about Voldemort. She needed the answers. She often imagined what life would be like if Voldemort...Tom Riddle had grown up as a normal boy, happy and loved. What would the wizarding world be like if he hadn't been allowed to make so many ripples?
Hermione was sure that he'd had an extremely unhappy childhood. She knew from talking to Harry about Dumbledore's memories that he'd grown up in an orphanage. That his mother had died shortly after giving him his muggle father's name - the muggle father who completely abandoned him. He'd been shown absolutely no love from the time he was a baby, the women at the orphanage knowing that there was something odd about him, but not understanding what that was. Then, when he'd arrived at Hogwarts, he didn't have the same experience that Harry or Hermione did - suddenly feeling as though they belonged. No, his peers were frightened of him. He only had followers, not friends.
It was on a rainy July afternoon that Hermione decided that Voldemort was afraid of death because of his mother. She'd been lying in bed again - unable to find the energy to get up when she had no hope - listening to the water leaking from the roof into the bucket she'd conjured. The only understanding of love Voldemort had came from his mother. She didn't love her son, but Merope Gaunt had loved the muggle Tom Riddle. And what had she gotten for her trouble? Death.
Hermione would fantasize about what would have happened if some nice English couple, maybe a little bit older, had just adopted him when he was a baby. Some nice muggles that would love a son, intelligent and charismatic. Then, when they found out that he was a wizard, they would be so pleased. So proud of their child. Tom would be loved and maybe have a perfectly good job at the Ministry of Magic once he graduated Hogwarts.
She knew it was odd to fantasize about a life where Tom Riddle had a normal childhood. She knew she should be fantasizing about a world where her friends were still alive, and she and Ron were planning their wedding. It would be at the Burrow, of course, and everyone would be there and everyone would be happy.
But those thoughts hurt too much. They reminded her of what she couldn't have. They reminded her of what she almost had.
It was a cool September evening, not quite her birthday yet, that Hermione realized that she could give Tom Riddle a normal childhood.
She'd been rummaging through Regulus's things when she found a time turner. She was positive the teenager hadn't even known what it was, as it was a rather unusual shape, and if he had she doubted he would have just left it so unguarded. But Hermione had used time turners a lot and she could feel the familiar temporal magic running through her. It was oddly comforting to have such a familiar device in her hands once again.
A time turner was a tiny piece of magic that had the possibilities to right huge wrongs. Hermione remembered how she'd used her own time turner to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak in her third year. Spinning the gold time piece in her hand, Hermione wondered if it was possible that she might be able to right another wrong.
Laying in bed, with the time turner resting on her chest, Hermione thought about all wrongs that she could fix. She could go to the final battle and stop Harry from being killed somehow. But why stop there? She could go back and save Mad-Eyed Moody, or Albus Dumbledore, or Sirius Black. She could go all the way back and save James and Lily Potter, making sure that Harry was never even marked as Voldemort's equal. Hell, she could save Moaning Myrtle.
It didn't take long to realize that Tom Riddle was the cause of all of that death and destruction. Tom Riddle, who'd never had anyone to love him, and lashed out to try and protect himself from Death, only to kill so many people in the process. If she wanted to save all the people who'd been hurt by him...she would have to make sure that Tom Riddle would never get hurt in the first place.
Dumbledore had once told Harry that he didn't think Tom Riddle was capable of love, because he was conceived with the use of amortentia. But, Hermione didn't believe that. All this time, she'd been fantasizing about Tom Riddle growing up and having a normal life, but she'd never put two and two together that she could be the one that could give him that life.
Sitting up, she grabbed the time turner tightly in her hand. It would take a lot of preparation, of course, and a bit of modification, but she thought that she could make this happen. Hermione felt that she was perhaps uniquely qualified to help Tom Riddle through his transition into the wizarding world. By all accounts he'd been an exceptionally smart child, much like she herself had been. And she knew what it felt like to be an outsider in the wizarding world, and perhaps if she helped him through it, he would fit in more...make friends.
He wouldn't turn to a life of dark magic to achieve his ends.
She spent the night in the library, trying to recalibrate the time turner to go back years instead of hours. She couldn't have found a better time turner to manipulate, as this one was really quite malleable. By the time that the dawn broke, Hermione found herself successful, but knowing that she still had a lot to do if she was going to go back over seventy years.
For the first time in many years, though, she felt hope that things could change for the better. That she was going to be able to make a real difference.
She'd had the time turner completed for a couple of weeks, but she still had a lot of work to do if she was going to adopt Tom Riddle from the orphanage. She knew that he was born on New Year's Eve in 1926, and she remembered that Harry said he'd lived in Wool's Orphanage from their whispered conversations in the tent when they were looking for horcruxes.
The only problem was that Wool's Orphanage didn't exist any longer. They'd looked for it once before, but they'd found no trace left of the place. Hermione had spent a few days reading through zoning plats in city hall, and eventually found it's location, the original building having been razed to become an office space.
Even if she knew where Tom Riddle would be waiting for her, she was positive that the matron would just hand over a baby to a random girl, especially one who'd only just turned nineteen. Hermione decided that she would pass herself off as a distant cousin of Merope Gaunt. She was very lucky to be hiding out in Grimmauld Place, knowing that the Black family kept extensive records of all the pureblood families. It wasn't difficult to find more information on the Gaunt family.
Knowing that the Gaunt family was so inbred, there was no way that she could try to pass herself off as a Gaunt in the wizarding world. Though, reading about the awful kind of person that Marvolo Gaunt was, she didn't want to be related to him anyway. She turned her attention instead to Merope's mother.
There wasn't much on the mysterious witch, as it seemed that she died when the children were very young, but she did find old wedding announcements and birth announcements for the Gaunt family. It seemed that Demelza Millefeuille was a young pureblood girl who came from France, who came from an equally disgusting family. Her father had gone to jail for poisoning muggles at his patisserie, and died there before his daughter was married. Her mother had arranged the marriage and died not two years later.
Demelza did have a younger brother, Albaric Millefeuille, who seemed to be the only bright spot in that family. He'd married a sweet pureblood girl, and they had a girl who fit the age that Hermione would be when she went back in the past. Albaric and his wife Tempeste had been killed by Grindelwald in 1925. Their unnamed daughter had moved to America, as far as she could tell.
It would be easy, Hermione decided, to take up the mantle of Hermione Millefeuille, daughter of Albaric, and first cousin to Merope Gaunt. Seeing as the Millefeuille girl had lived in France, she thought that there was little to no chance that she would run into anyone who knew her in England. It seemed that Albaric had wanted to live a simple life, outside of the pureblood culture his father had been raised in. It was a comforting thought that she might be able to add to the legacy that Albaric wanted to create before he'd died.
Once she'd determined who and what she was going to be in the past, she felt that she didn't have much else to do but gather her things in preparation to go back at get Tom Riddle. She did have a bit of trouble converting all of her parents muggle money into Francs, seeing as the French government was switching to Euros. In the end, she didn't have as much money as she thought she would, but it should be enough for her to live comfortably and raise Tom until she could find a job.
She'd picked an arbitrary day in December for her to go back to the past. She couldn't believe that it had finally arrived and she was actually going to raise Tom Riddle. What if she couldn't put her anger for the evil man that he became past the little boy she would be taking in? What if she couldn't give him the love that he deserved? What if she couldn't change him?
Shaking her head, Hermione was determined to succeed. She had to, if she wanted to give all the people affected by Voldemort a better life. She would never be able to come back, but she thought that this little adventure might be able to give her some purpose in life, purpose she'd been struggling to find since the Final Battle that wasn't the end of the war.
Leaving Grimmauld Place behind, carrying just her small beaded bag and her time turner, Hermione was ready to make a change in the world.