1) YES, I had previously posted this fic as a Tom/Hermione/Draco story, but it simply didn't work with Draco as a lead character. Even so, I wanted to continue this story and see it through to the end, hence Draco's replacement.
2) This is an AU, set in the latter part of the Victorian Era. I apologize if some historical points are off. As stated in the summary, it is a vampire story. If you're not into vampire stories, please read no further.
3) This is a triad fic. If you are uncomfortable with M/M intimate interactions, please read no further.
4) Updates will be sporadic.
FANCAST: Henry Cavill as Tom Riddle, Jr.; Sebastian Stan (specific to his role as Jefferson [The Mad Hatter] in OUaT) as *Augustin Selwyn
* Augustin Selwyn (who appears in a number of my other DE fics [and his descendant, Corvus Selwyn]) is my take on the canon character of Selwyn.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters & make no profit from this story.
A Fortunate Meeting
"Colin, Dennis! Please don't run off!"
Hermione sighed, shaking her head as the Creevey boys bolted through the park. Honestly, it was as though they heard do in the place of every don't.
Chestnut eyes rolling heavenward, she pleaded silently for this day to already be over. Drawing a deep breath, she winced at the strain against the bones of her new corset. She gathered her skirts in her hands and hurried after them.
The boys stopped by the grand fountain in the center of the park. At least they were in her eye-line, she considered, as she halted after only a few meters.
The only thing to keep her from doubling over as she fought to catch her breath was the stiffness of her dress. Tipping her head back, she brushed some loose strands of her typically wild golden-brown hair out of her eyes—it had been all neat and tidy when Mr. Creevey had suggested she escort the boys to the park, as they were too bored at the party.
Now, she was certain chasing after them had turned it into a puffy ball of madness atop her head.
Sparing a moment, she ran the fingers of her lace gloved-hands over her hair. Her shoulders drooped in relief as she found that only those few locks had gone wayward.
She started along the cobblestone path once more, but stopped, mid-stride. There was an odd, fleeting sensation against her back, as though someone stood close behind her.
Brow furrowing, she turned her head to look over her shoulder. The path was entirely empty; the only other visitors were too far from her to have caused the strange feeling.
Frowning, she put the incident out of her head and started back toward the boys as she turned forward. She never saw the gentleman hurrying along in her direction, until they collided.
Hermione lost her footing; stumbling, she gashed her knee against a broken stone in the path. She looked up, trying not to let her eyes water as the pain seared across her skin.
"I'm so sorry," they said at the same time, their voices mingling.
She froze, feeling her cheeks warm a little as she met his blue-eyed gaze. Though, she did wonder what was fascinating him so as he stared back at her, his full lips parting ever so slightly as he drew in a sharp breath.
He blinked a few times in rapid succession, before he shook his head, appearing to regain his bearings. "No, no. I apologize, my lady," he said, offering his leather-gloved hand to her.
Her brows shot up as she slipped her fingers into his. His finely-tailored dark suit and the way he carried himself . . . . She thought for certain he'd be demanding that she watch her step more carefully, next time.
Perhaps her present state of dress had him fooled into thinking she was of higher station than a governess—at this moment, she had all the airs of an aristocrat's daughter. Words of gratitude for his assistance stuck in her throat as she allowed him to pull her to her feet.
Heat lanced her knee as she moved, and she let out a hissing breath. Hermione hobbled a little to one side as she attempted to get a look at the injury, but also tried not to lean on him as she did so.
"Oh, dear," he said, shaking his head. "Come, sit." The mysterious gentleman slipped his free hand around her elbow as he guided her toward the fountain.
She must've been dazed from her tumble, she thought, because before she knew it, she found herself seated on a nearby bench. Though, she could still hear Colin and Dennis playing, which calmed her somewhat—she had feared the clever boys would have taken advantage of her distraction just now and darted off, again—she couldn't seem to stop staring at the man's face.
His hair fell in neat, dark waves, contrasting his bright eyes and fair skin. There was the barest dusting of color in his high-boned cheeks, yet she didn't know if that was from the sun, or perhaps embarrassment at causing her injury.
To her shock, he knelt before her. He appeared to think through what he was doing only after he started, his fingers gently touching the hem of her skirts.
"May I have a look at it?"
A blush flooded her cheeks instantly and she snapped her head around, glancing about the park. It was all fine and well that he wanted to make sure she was all right, but she suddenly feared some passerby misunderstanding the situation.
"I . . . ." She chewed her lip as she shook her head. "I don't think that's—"
"Please?" His dark, perfectly arched brows drew upward as he offered her a charming grin. "I do have some medical knowledge, and I would be ever so grateful if you would let me see to your injury."
Ever so grateful? Her jaw dropped a little as she stared back at him. "All right," she said, her voice lower than she intended, "if you're going to insist so."
That grin melted down to a serene half-smile as he nodded and carefully pushed back her skirts. He held in an endeared chuckle at the way she stiffened as he brushed gentle fingertips over the tear in her stocking around the cut. Such wonderful innocence.
"I am sorry to say that I ruined your hose."
The girl didn't answer. He looked up to see how she eyed her skirts. She sniffled, and there was the faintest glimmer of wetness on her dark, curled lashes.
"I'm sorry," he said again, darting his gaze back to the gash. Surely the wound was a bit impressive for how narrow it was, but he didn't think it enough to bring her to tears. "Does it hurt that badly?"
"No, it's not that." Folding her lips inward, she smoothed her hands over the top layer of her skirts. The butter-yellow fabric was torn and stained with drops of crimson. "I've ruined my dress. My—my uncle bought it for me, and now its ruined."
He spoke as he retrieved a silk handkerchief from inside his jacket to gently dab at her cut. "You should allow me to compensate you for the cost."
"That's very kind, but I couldn't possibly ask that of you." She shrugged as she managed to tear her gaze from him to look toward the boys. They had busied themselves sword fighting with sticks.
"Colin, Dennis! Will you please be careful? You're going to put someone's eye out!"
As she turned back, she couldn't miss how his attention flicked toward the boys, before returning to her. "Aren't those the Creevey boys?"
Hermione nodded, gaze on the horizon a moment as she confessed, "I'm their governess."
He bit his lip but remained silent. How sweet that she thought it an embarrassing revelation to admit her station to him.
"Are you friends with the family?" She didn't know why she asked, perhaps to fill the sudden silence—if he was a friend, wouldn't he be at the party, now?
"No," he said, his expression thoughtful as he tipped his head, presumably examining the cut. "I know of them only by name, really. We travel in the same circles, I suppose you could say."
"I see." She remained polite, a small smile plucking at the corners of her mouth, but she had the feeling he was actually a bit above the Creevey's circles. It was nice to think he didn't want to frighten her with whatever his true standing was.
"I understand they're moving abroad."
Her brows pinched together as she met his gaze, again. He'd seen to her cut, and now knew the discussion was probably not worth his time. Why, then, did it feel as though he was making excuses to carry on their conversation?
"Yes. Today is their farewell party." She hurried on, supplying him more information than was asked to see if he was only curious, or was—as mad as it seemed—simply interested in continuing to speak with her. "They depart in a few days."
He arched a brow. "But you won't be accompanying them?"
Shaking her head, she fussed with her skirts, pushing them back down into place.
"That will leave you unemployed, then?"
My, he certainly was the inquisitive sort. The handsome gentleman's unwavering attention was beginning to make her bashful.
Hermione shrugged, forcing her expression to remain neutral as best she could. "I'm certain the agency will find me something."
"Yes," he said as he nodded. "I'm certain they will."
"We want to go home, now."
Colin's voice at her shoulder gave Hermione a start. She turned, glancing from Colin, to Denis, and back.
"Tuckered yourselves out, have you?"
Denis pouted. "No! We're hungry."
"I suppose I should be on my way, as well."
Hermione looked to the gentleman as he rose to his feet. He held his hand out to her, his gaze on hers, all the while. She slipped he fingers into his, as she had a few minutes earlier, and allowed him to assist her to stand.
"Are you certain you won't allow me to compensate you for the dress?"
"I couldn't." She extracted her hand from his in a delicate gesture—he seemed to have forgotten he was holding her. "My uncle wouldn't want—"
"Can we see Sirius again before we take ship?"
Hermione frowned, her expression stern as she looked to the shorter of the two fair-haired boys. "Dennis! You know it's rude to interrupt adult conversation." When the boy looked abashed, her features softened. "I'm sorry, but you know my uncle is a very busy man. However, I will ask him."
"Your uncle is Sirius Black? The violinist?"
She appreciated that he didn't state Sirius' full moniker. The Mad Violinist was more an affectionate title, than a statement of his demeanor—though she did often think he might be at least a little mad—due to his obvious passion as he played. His long, jet curls swung thing way and that in frenzied motions, so by the end of any performance, he did, indeed, look quite mad.
"Yes. You know of him?"
"I am quite familiar with his work. I went to hear him play last month in Hogsmeade." The man furrowed his brow as his gaze searched her face, but then he shook his head. "I'm sorry. I knew he had a brother; I suppose I'm trying to look for a family resemblance."
"Oh, no," she said, casting her gaze downward before meeting his eyes, once more. "I'm not Regulus' daughter. Sirius was a friend of the family, and when my parents passed, he took me in. I was young at the time, and was raised with his godson, and . . . ."
He was staring at her so intently as she spoke that the words caught in her throat. Why on earth was she babbling at him like this?
Hermione shrugged, shaking her head and forcing a gulp down her throat. "He always called Sirius uncle, so I started to, as well," she finished, her voice small.
"My name is Tom," the gentleman said, smiling as he gently took her hand in his and pressed a kiss to the back, before letting it drop, again. "At the very least, you may tell your uncle you met one of his admirers today."
There was a strange rush of relief and disappointment as she recognized that he was actually taking his leave, now.
"My name is Hermione. It was a pleasure speaking with you, Tom. Thank you for your assistance."
"Miss Granger, c'mon," Colin whined.
Her frame slumped as she took each of the boy's hands in hers. "Yes, yes. We are going, I was only . . . ." Her voice trailed off as she looked up again to find Tom nowhere in sight. ". . . Being polite."
She furrowed her brow as she looked along the path. "Did you boys see where the gentleman disappeared to?"
They both shrugged and shook their heads in response.
Something on the ground snagged her attention. She bent to retrieve the scrap of pale fabric, realizing as she picked it up that the gentleman'd dropped his handkerchief.
Turning it over, she ran a fingertip over the initials embroidered into the white silk. "T.R.?"
Tom watched the girl depart, her young charges in tow.
He truly hadn't intended to carry on the conversation as long as he had. Yet, the longer she spoke, the more he wanted her to keep speaking. The color in her cheeks, the flecks of dark crimson in her chestnut eyes. The sweet line of her cleavage over the top of her dress, and how her breasts shivered as she had fidgeted in place, fussing over her skirts.
Smirking, he looked to the drops of crimson on his finger. Fishing a small vial from his pocket, he uncorked it and carefully scraped some of the steadily-cooling liquid into it. Of course, it would be cold by the time he got it home, but there was little to be done for it.
Replacing the stopper, Tom lapped the remnants from the leather of his glove. He bit hard into his bottom lip as his eyelids drifted downward.
Yes, he'd suspected this the moment he caught the scent of her blood. And she was a ward of the Black family?
That was fortunate, indeed.
"Hermione Granger," he said in a whisper, opening his eyes to watch her, once more—she was nearly out of his eye-line, now. "Yes, you will do perfectly, won't you?"
He inspected the blood inside the glass for a moment. "And I'm certain my sweet boy will think so, too."
Three Weeks Later . . . .
"Still nothing?" Harry asked over lunch.
Hermione looked up from her meal and shrugged. She played with her utensils, but didn't have much of an appetite, just now. "I've checked the post every day. I don't know. Perhaps the Creeveys gave me a bad reference."
"Rubbish." He shook his head, though he seemed rather absorbed in eating as he spoke. His lack of etiquette made her sigh, despite that it was a somewhat adorable trait to which she was well accustomed. "You're a fantastic teacher, and Ginny says you are amazing with her nieces."
Hermione strained to keep her eyes from rolling. She adored Ginny, but this was not the time for Harry to take yet another opportunity to fawn over his fiancé.
"I don't know," she said again. "Ginny's practically family. She could only be doing me a kindness by saying such things."
"Hermione," Sirius called as he stepped into the dining room. "You have a tele—"
"Oh, thank you!" She was out of her chair and across the room so fast, Harry swore he blinked and missed her movements.
She took the telegram from Sirius hand, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she opened it.
Sirius watched her as she read the message. It didn't escape Harry's notice that his godfather looked . . . nervous, somehow. He couldn't quite put his finger on it.
"It's a position in the country! I'm requested as governess at the Riddle Estate? Where is . . . ?" Her voice trailed off as she noted the name of her prospective employer. "Lord Thomas Riddle?"
T.R.? That charming—if rather intense—gentleman from the park? Well, he had known she would be out of work now, and had her full name, due to Colin's impatient wailing.
Had Tom . . . . Thomas, Lord Thomas Riddle, she corrected herself, requested her, especially?
She didn't know if the giddiness in her stomach was relief after thinking she might not find work any time soon, or something brought on by the thought of seeing him, again. The latter part she ignored, for—as her employer—that was quite an inappropriate reaction for her to have toward him.
Her eyebrows shot up as she looked up from the message. "I'm expected to arrive by this evening! Oh, I must go pack my trunk."
Sirius smiled as she bounced up to plant on a kiss on his cheek. As she whirled on her heel and dashed up the stairs, Harry observed how Sirius' cheerful expression melted, leaving behind a pained grimace.
He opened his mouth to ask, but his godfather was already walking out of the room. After a moment, he heard the grating of metal against stone.
Brow furrowing, he pushed back his seat and stood. "Uncle Sirius?"
By the time he reached the sitting room, Sirius was kneeling before the fireplace. He'd pulled away the screen and was watching something in the flames.
"Uncle? What are you doing?"
Sirius shot to his feet as he jerked his head around to look at Harry. "Nothing," he said, swallowing hard as he shook his head.
"It's clearly isn't nothing." Harry stormed across the room to see for himself. There, in the fire, he could make out the blackened curling of paper . . . . Here and there, lettering. He was able to piece together enough words to understand what he was seeing.
"Telegrams from Hermione's agency?" Harry glanced over his shoulder at his godfather, his throat so tight with anger he wasn't certain he could get the words out. "She's been going mad for weeks believing no one wanted to employ her! Why would you do this?"
Sirius only shook his head again, his blue-grey eyes watering as he stared into the fire.
Harry followed the man's gaze. He saw one paper, different from the rest—a letter that had yet to be wholly swallowed by the flames.
"Harry, don't," Sirius said, even as the younger man bent and snatched the letter out of the fire.
Frowning, Harry waved the paper gently to extinguish the burning edges. Ice churned in the pit of his stomach as he read aloud what was left. ". . . Granger. Deliver her and the debt of the Black family shall be paid in full. Yours, T.R.."
His brows drew upward and he shook his head in disbelief. Lord Thomas Riddle, as Hermione'd read from her new employer's request. Forcing a gulp down his throat, Harry looked to the fireplace, the remnants of the telegrams now nothing but ash, and then to Sirius.
"I don't understand." He paused a moment to force a breath, his voice thick. "Uncle, what have you done?"
With a mirthless grin, Sirius took the smoldering paper from his godson's hand and put it back in the flames. Straightening up, he shook his head, a tear escaping to roll down his cheek.
After a moment of attempting to compose himself, he finally said, "I've protected you and your fiancé." And your future children, but he left that unsaid, assuring himself that Lord Riddle, and his ward, would treat Hermione well.
Before Harry could inquire about this last part, Sirius turned sharply and clamped his hands over Harry's shoulders. "Whatever you think, you mustn't say a word. For your own sake, and Hermione's."
Harry didn't know what to think as he looked from his godfather to the ceiling. He could only imagine how excited Hermione was, as she fluttered about on the floor above their heads.
Packing to leave for the Riddle Estate . . . .
But he couldn't stop wondering. Debt? What debt? Since when did the Black family owe anything to anyone? He was even less certain now about what was happening than he'd been a moment ago. Unless . . . .
Exactly how old was this debt the Lord was claiming? And why was Sirius honoring it?
He knew Sirius wouldn't give him an answer, but Harry had a suspicion.
"Will we ever see her again?"
Sirius met his godson's gaze, his voice slipping out in barely audible whisper as he shook his head. "I don't know."