Handling a Dark-Lord Wannabe

Chapter 8: Hermione Make an Oath

Hermione stared dispassionately at the auburn-haired man opposite her. She was 95% sure they were engaged in some kind of impromptu staring contest, or at least a nonverbal battle of wills, and had prevented herself from blinking (just in case) to avoid appearing weak.

She wondered if it was easier to avoid blinking or harder when one was wearing spectacles. Did the man have an unfair advantage?

Dumbledore had wasted no time intercepting Hermione during what should have been her lunch hour. He seemed oddly gleeful, in fact, as she was marched out of the Great Hall like some kind of wayward child. The Head Boy had narrowed his eyes suspiciously, and gave her a look of grave consideration. As if she was on her way to receive a lobotomy, and he was trying to determine what kind of person she would be after it was over. Reevaluating her worth.

Or perhaps that was a little dramatic. But Tom seemed to find her fatalistic musings entertaining, if she was correctly interpreting his twitching lips. Ah, gallows humor.

But now that she was waiting in his office, she got the needle as she impatiently waited for her Head of House to pounce. She hated gloaters. All she could do was stare him down and attempt to convey her irritation.

He finally blinked, and Hermione mentally relished her victory.

It didn't last. He finally got around to opening his stupid mouth.

"I must say, I am rather disappointed to discover that you are so untrustworthy. I had expected greater things from you."

Hermione stared at him in sullen silence. She refused to be guilt-tripped with pretty lies, especially by this man.

"And I'm afraid there are consequences to your actions."

Hermione huffed, already fed up with his posturing. "What did I do, exactly?"

Dumbledore gave her a hard look. "There are very tangible reasons why the timeline must be maintained. Yet it seems every time I turn around, there you are being interrogated by Mister Riddle."

"Aside from general personal facts, I have not disclosed to Tom anything about the future."

"I am not an idiot, Miss Granger. That was only due to my intervention."

"There is no way of proving whether or not that is true. So you are punishing me for hypothetical behavior. How is that in any way appropriate?"

The smile he gave her was thin and did little to hide his aggravation. "You are not in the position to determine what is appropriate. So I'm afraid we are going to have to cut down on your workload."

Hermione felt her eyes turn hard. "That is not a power you have, either as my Head of House or Deputy Headmaster."

His smile grew unpleasant. "You are right in this instance; it is up to the discretion of the Professor in charge. And I would like to offer my condolences, because as of this afternoon you are no longer welcome in Transfiguration."

Hermione bitterly ground her teeth, forcing herself not to cry frustrated tears, and tried to console herself with the fact that she should still be able to take the Transfiguration N.E.W.T. at the end of the year.

"I have also spoken to Miss Meadows, and I agree with her that your participation in that class is also inappropriate."

Hermione pursed her lips in resentment. "That is a decision neither of you have the power to make. According to the school charter, adjunct faculty, which includes visiting speakers and substitute professors, do not have to power to expel a student from any course in the curriculum. Furthermore, there is precedent of females engaging in N.E.W.T. level Defense Against the Dark Arts in the past, so my presence is not inherently inappropriate. In any case, I'm afraid you will have to wait until Professor Merrythought returns in order to properly evaluate the appropriateness of my participation."

His lips curled back into a sneer. "Or perhaps this matter should be evaluated by the Headmaster?"

Hermione leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs in a dismissive manner. "By all means."

If this man succeeded in screwing her over, she would not hesitate to do the same. Starting with her discussion with Riddle, but who knew where she could go from there. She could act as a consultant and encourage rich foggies to make lucrative investments and cash in on their success. She could sell herself as a Seer and correctly predict all of the major natural disasters and economic downturns until the turn of the century. She could inform The Prophet that Dumbledore and Grindenwald had been lovers a couple of decades ago. The sky was the fucking limit when she decided she was too bitter for morality to be a deterrent.

"Then I will be sure to do so. In the meantime, we should try to keep you occupied so you aren't tempted to talk to anyone you shouldn't. And you are just in luck. Cassandra Vablatsky, a very well-known Seer, is offering a seminar two hours before dinner. I expect you to attend."

Hermione couldn't stop her face from scrunching up in disgust at the thought, and saw Dumbledore smirk vindictively at her.

"And just in case you do manage to squeeze some time in for our Head Boy, I would like to remind you that any encounter between the two of you that I deem inappropriate will be brought in front of the Headmaster. But I'm sure you will behave yourself. After all, those kind of trysts are most unseemly, and the damage to your reputations could be irreparable."

Hermione couldn't stop herself in indulging in her newest coping mechanism in her fury. Unfortunately, the image of jamming one of Dumbledore's pointless pointy knickknacks into the side of his skull was less satisfying than it should be.

"Now that our business has been conducted, I must ask you to leave. I have an appointment."

Fucking controlling, hypocritical piece of shit.

Hermione wasted no time bounding out of his office and down the hall. Hungry, and needing to rant a bit, she headed straight for the kitchens, and almost ran into the Head Boy in her determination to get there as quickly as possible.

"Granger?" His brow was raised curiously, and through it she could read all of the questions he wasn't asking. What happened? What did Dumbledore say? Why do you look so angry?

Hermione didn't bother to reply, swinging her arm around his elbow and dragging him along the tide that was her fury. She didn't even remember reaching the kitchens. One moment she was furiously bounding down the hall, the next she was sitting at a counter in the kitchen and Elijah was hastily trying to feed her cake.

She was ranting.

"I am going to ruin that man, Elijah! Goddamn hypocrite of a wizard feels it necessary to punish me for 'hypothetical behavior'. How is that in any way appropriate? That is not the way the law works, here or in the muggle world. A crime needs to be committed before someone can be punished, and not even thoughts colluding to an infraction are subject to censure. So what is this? An abuse of his position that enables him to indulge in his controlling, dare I say tyrannical megalomania…"

Elijah casually interrupted her, shooting her bemused companion a wary look as he slid two, very generous portions of chocolate cake in their direction. "Love, not to disabuse you from the plausibility of your intention, but… how do you plan to ruin a man like Albus Dumbledore?"

Hermione felt her lips curl back into a scowl. "I know all the details of his sordid past, of course. You know, back when he took on a Dark Lord as a lover, and they used to muggle bait and experiment with the Dark Arts together for fun."

Hermione took a fork in her right hand, and started to violently cut her cake into smaller pieces. "I thought about shoving one of his stupid contraptions through his skull, but… death would be a mercy."

That is what she eventually decided. Reputation meant everything to the wizard that went so far as to manipulate himself into martyrdom through the machination that was his death. And considering all of the threats the man had made about sullying her own reputation, it would be… satisfying to do the same in return if it became necessary.

Elijah sent her a curious look in between his absentminded attempts to lick the frosting from his fingers. "Apparently your violent tendencies extend beyond the occasional sucker punch."

Tom snorted and stated, "You have no idea." Hermione shot a quick look in his direction, still feeling defensive from her recent Dumbledore encounter. The still slightly disheveled Head Boy looked amused, and intrigued, and quite pleased to be eating a piece of decadent three-layer chocolate cake. Bastard.

She turned back towards the blonde. "You know what you did."

Elijah's grin was wide and smug as he blatantly ogled her breasts. "I do indeed. They are quite a pair." He turned towards Tom, and made a show of pretending to whisper in confidence, "Don't let the robes fool you."

Tom's eyebrow raised towards his hairline as he looked back and forth between the two of them speculatively, and Hermione was somewhat horrified to see that the Head Boy did actually seem to be evaluating her breasts. "Indeed?"

Hermione felt the need to clarify. Divert their conversation away from… whatever this was. "This twat fell on top of me and took the opportunity to feel me up. So I gave him a shiner."

Tom's expression settled into an unimpressed stare, which he shot at the young man across the counter. "I had no idea Hufflepuffs were so… gutsy."

Elijah sighed theatrically at the Slytherin in exasperation. "House politics are boring. Call me a scoundrel if you're determined to insult me. Although I personally consider myself something of a lady killer." He sent Hermione a wink and a winning smile.

Hermione just rolled her eyes and took a bite of cake. Unfortunately for her Hufflepuff friend, she had recently become inured to beautiful boy smiles due to her reluctant exposure to their Head Boy.

The blonde pouted dramatically at her dismissal. "You're no fun."

"I'm ever so sorry that a flash of baby blues and a nice smile aren't enough for me to lose my mind and drop my knickers."

Elijah's grin was back. "You continue to make sarcasm sound somehow sexy, my dear."

Hermione snorted derisively. "Thank goodness you think so. Now I finally know how to approach a man. I'll lean over and whisper, 'You look like a rodent and smell like a chinchilla, why the fuck wouldn't I want to go out with you?'. And before you know it, he'll be eating out of my hand."

"Seduce many men, do you?"

Hermione couldn't stop from smirking mischievously. "Where would I get the opportunity?" She looked pointedly at both Tom and Elijah. "I don't see any men here."

Elijah put a hand to his chest, acting tragically wounded, just as Tom countered her attempt to be clever. "You are hardly the paragon of womanhood."

"No? This coming from the boy that just spent a full minute looking at my breasts?"

Tom shrugged. "I've seen better."

Elijah looked interested. "Whose?"

Tom stared directly into her eyes as he answered, and she was sure every word he spoke was meant to rankle her. "Lestrange's are nice and plump. And White has the prettiest little nipples."

Unfortunately for Tom, Hermione wasn't surprised or disturbed by his crudeness; she already knew Tom was a big fan of shock value, and she knew Elijah had a special way of bringing vulgarity out in people. She forced a yawn, and took another delicious bite of cake.

Elijah observed this interplay and barked out an amused laugh, before he leaned towards Tom with the hint of a smile around his lips. "Riddle? Their tits could feel like clouds and taste like fucking caramel, and I still wouldn't be interested. Those have to be the bitchiest, most high maintenance girls in this entire school. Not fucking worth it."

Tom shrugged like girl's being bitchy wasn't something he ever had to deal with. "It's just an exchange of expectations, Walker. Hardly as difficult as you are making it out to be."

Elijah's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You have never had to deal with a girl that clung to you like a fucking monkey? Or was so insecure they thought you were cheating on them with every girl you said hello to in the corridor? The kind that didn't seem to understand that space in a relationship is healthy?"

Tom just raised a brow.

"Bullshit. I'm calling fucking bullshit. I think you have experienced that, and then dropped the girl because you thought she was annoying as hell."

The Head Boy shrugged, and took a generous bite of cake.

Elijah snorted. And then jumped up from the counter and spun excitedly towards Hermione. "Oh! I just remembered that I have leftovers of a peanut butter mousse cake in my dorm that I wanted you to try. Will you stick around for a few more minutes? I'll be back in a jiffy."

Hermione nodded, nonplussed at his enthusiasm, and then the Hufflepuff wasted no time bounding out of the kitchen through a side entrance.

Feeling awkward in the sudden silence Elijah left behind, Hermione took the time to scoop up another mouthful as she considered the boy next to her. He seemed to be waiting for her to initiate the conversation, and after Hermione paused to swallow, she did just that. She purposely sat forward in her seat, and without looking at him, stated, "Sorry for dragging you in here. I wanted you to know that Dumbledore has moved from passive aggressive suggestions to outright threats about damaging our reputations due to fabricated trysts."

"Hardly a surprising turn of events."

"No. But meeting you in the Prefect Baths may seem particularly suspect, and I wanted you to know about the professor's recent directives ahead of time."

Tom nodded. "I appreciate the forewarning. Although I doubt that is why you dragged me in here."

Hermione's smile was thin. "You're right. The game has changed. Dumbledore has made his stance clear, and unfortunately for him, I deem any attempts to disrupt my education unpardonable. I had little incentive to play nice before, and none now. And I have gone beyond caring about the ramifications of introducing a time paradox."

"Which means?"

She finally turned to look at him, attempting to pin him down with her stare. "Which means I am ready to make our deal."

Tom's eyes narrowed. "What deal? As far as I was aware, we were due to have a discussion. But I said nothing of a deal."

Hermione rolled her eyes at the boy. "Please, Tom. You know as well as I do that this has always been a negotiation. A game. You've been playing with me, and playing with Dumbledore. Which is why you didn't drag me into an abandoned classroom and attempt to Crucio me into submission weeks ago."

Tom spoke in carefully measured cadences, and Hermione could tell he was meticulously evaluating his next move. "Why would I be inclined to make a deal? If the game has, indeed, changed, perhaps now would be the perfect time for that torture session."

Hermione gave the boy a hard look. "If you want to behave like an impatient, brash child, by all means. But you should know more about the two options before you decide. Option one, in which I cooperate and provide information that may prove crucial, but which you aren't aware enough to ask for. Or two, you attempt to torture me until inevitably I lose my mind or die, which leaves you without any advantages."

"How are you so sure I won't be able to force you into submission?"

Hermione's smile was crooked and malicious. "I've just arrived at the tail end of a war, Riddle. I've been exposed to torture. If it couldn't crack me then, why do you think it might crack me now?"

His eyes gleamed with a hint of challenge. "I can be rather creative. If pain doesn't work, what about pleasure? I could force you to ingest lust potions and withhold relief until you give me what I want."

Hermione frowned, disturbed by the very idea, but she knew better than to show any blatant weaknesses in front of Tom. "If you feel the need to test my resolve. But that's an imperfect method, and you know it."

Tom's smile was dark. "But still something to consider."

And then he took out his wand and started to fiddle with the handle, and Hermione couldn't help but wonder if this was some kind of power play. If it was, it wasn't working. "I suppose the next step is to determine what you know, so I am aware of how much your knowledge is worth. And see just what you are expecting out of this deal."

Hermione shrugged. "I want immunity."

Tom's eyebrow raised. "Immunity?"

Hermione nodded. "Protection. I want an oath that you will not physically, mentally, magically, financially, or in any way damage my self or my reputation, either by your hand or the hand of your minions."

It took him a few moments to process this, before he nodded absentmindedly. "Anything else?"

Hermione bit her lip, hesitant if she wanted to add this as an official stipulation, but decided to push forward with the thought anyway. "If I show talent in the dueling competition next week, I want to be allowed to join the Dueling Club."

Tom's lips twitched, and she wondered what exactly he found amusing. "I suppose none of that is unreasonable. What do you know?"

Hermione stared at him for a moment, trying to decide how to approach this. Then, "I'm going to tell you a story. And I expect you to wait until the very end before you interrupt."

Tom frowned.

"There once was a boy who grew up in an orphanage. He knew he wasn't like the other boys and girls, for he had the power to do things they couldn't. And he was right. Shortly after his eleventh birthday, he was visited by a bearded man who told him that he was a wizard. That he was special."

"He came to Hogwarts and fell in love with the castle, and with magic. It gave him power and control, and fueled his ambitions. The boy decided that he wanted to become someone great. He wanted to bring about change. He wanted to live forever."

She eyed him with an irritated scowl marring her face. "The stupid boy thought that splitting his soul was the most expedite way to obtain immortality. So with little care that he was sacrificing his magic and his sanity, the boy made horcruxes and collected a band of other children he dubbed knights that were to act as his minions. Because, naturally, he would be king."

By now Tom was openly sneering. Hermione ignored him. "The boy became an adult. A completely moronic adult that continued to split his soul until his sanity was it tatters, left to drown in hubris and paranoid delusions. No longer capable of subtle manipulations, the stupid man began a ham-fisted reign of terror. But his control was short-lived. His coup was so guileless and destructive that the wizarding war proclaimed him a terrorist instead of a politician or revolutionary, and banded against him. In addition, the indiscriminate abuse of his followers encouraged betrayal. Ultimately, with few true allies, he assured his own self-destruction trying to fend off a prophecy spelling his doom."

Hermione yawned, before she reached for another bite of cake. "Sound positively Greek, doesn't it?" She chanced a glance at the boy beside her, and found him pointing his wand threateningly in her direction. What a surprise.

Hermione ignored him, and it took several minutes for Tom to work out a reply. "How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"You don't, I suppose. But you could always make me take an oath too, and demand my honesty."

His mouth pursed thoughtfully. "What more will you give me?"

Hermione raised a brow. "My honesty and knowledge isn't enough?"

"What about your fealty? If I am, indeed, King."

Hermione snorted. "You are not my better. And you are certainly no King of mine. But I suppose we could add on loyalty as a stipulation. But only if you agree to the same."

He took a long pause, and then asked, "Would you be willing to pledge your magical talent?"

Hermione gave him an exasperated look. "No. You will just need to endear yourself to me so I feel compelled to help. Like normal people do."

"I have no desire to be normal."

Hermione huffed. "That's a no, Tom. Now do we have a deal?"

The ruffled teen let out an exaggerated sigh of aggravation. "Fine. I assume you are aware of how to make a Wizarding Oath?"

"Of course."

"Excellent. Then you can go first."

Hermione gave Tom a hard look. "No."

His brow raised. "You want to renegade on our deal?"

"No, I am not going first. I am giving you knowledge in exchange for my protection. I do not intend to offer anything until that has been taken care of first."

They attempted to stare each other down, and Hermione listlessly wondered how many staring contests a person usually engaged in in one day.

It took several minutes, but after determining that Hermione was not bluffing and had no intention of standing down, Tom apparently chose the best course of action. "I want your word that you will make the Oath as soon as I am finished making mine."

"I swear."

There was a swish of magic with just a hint of compulsion, but that apparently was enough to make Tom feel more comfortable moving forward. He twirled his wand around, and Hermione could recognize a couple of obfuscation and muffling charms.

Then he turned towards her, and Hermione was briefly amused to notice the hint of a smear of chocolate on the edge of the corner of his lips.

"I, Tom Marvolo Riddle, do swear by my magic that I will be loyal to Hermione Granger, and will ensure that she is not harmed in any manner by my hand or according to my orders." There was another swish of magic, much brighter, that wrapping twirling swirls of golden light around his body. Hermione was dismayed to realize he looked almost ethereal, and was sure that he had never appeared more beautiful.

And then magic prompted her to reciprocate. She didn't fight it. "I, Hermione Jean Granger, do swear by my magic that I will be loyal to Tom Marvolo Riddle, and will truthfully impart knowledge that will aid him according to his ambitions." Another swirl of light erupted from the ground at her feet and wrapped around her body.

Tom smirked at her choice of phrasing. "You didn't want to be magically compelled towards complete honesty with me all the time?"

Hermione snorted. "I thought you enjoyed my sarcasm too much to do that, Riddle. I wouldn't want to deprive you."

He barked out a laugh, and then reached forward to take her glowing wrist in his hand. They gripped each other's forearms in a traditional demonstration of accord, just as the light surrounding their bodies bound together, and the heat from the joining seemed to spread down the length of her body. And then suddenly, there was more, somehow. Her level of awareness was… more. His emotions, his expressions, his body- it was hard to pinpoint. Where the moreness originated from. But it was there. And if the intensity of his stare was anything to go by, he could feel it too.

Still staring into his eyes, Hermione felt a familiar tension compelling them closer. What she had previously dismissed as animal magnetism now seemed to be a very real pressure that felt urgent and necessary. And her mouth inched closer to his as their magic thrummed in delight. And there was that hint of chocolate, and more than anything in the world, Hermione wanted to lick it off his lips...


The moment disappeared, and Hermione found herself blinking owlishly at Elijah and mentally reprimanding herself for not going back to the library to investigate Caster's publication. Clearly, she needed additional research.

Tom let go of her forearm, and Hermione glanced back at him, surprised to notice that his expression was completely dispassionate. "If you'll excuse me," he stated almost absentmindedly, before stalking out of the kitchen.

Hermione stared after him, frowning.

"Well, well, well. Someone wasn't wasting any time putting the moves on our Head Boy, hm?"

Hermione felt her cheeks burn and tried to ignore the blonde teen, throwing herself at her piece of chocolate cake with the desperation of woman in need of both a distraction and an emotional boost.

"I admit; the man looked positively edible wrapped in gold. I'm just a little concerned about the bit I heard about orphaned boys dallying around with Dark Magic and world domination."

Oh god, Elijah heard their entire conversation. "It's complicated."

He scoffed. "No shit, Sherlock. You both took magical oaths, of course it's fucking complicated."

Hermione felt a conflicted urge to frown and pout at the same time. "What was I supposed to do?"

Elijah's eyebrows went up incredulously. "Ignore him? That's all you had to do. Pretend he didn't exist, and you wouldn't have gotten involved."

This time Hermione frowned. "I'm not very good at that."

He rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Clearly."

"I suppose you feel rather silly for your suggestion that I marry the boy, now that you know more about him?"

The look Elijah sent her was measured. "No, I still think it's in the cards. Might be good for both of you, actually. You can reign each other in from acting overly violent and homicidal."

"Or we could egg each other into really discovering the depths of our depravity."

The blonde rolled his eyes again. "Sure. The two of you will become the next Dark Lord and Dark Lady, and I will forever regret the moment I introduced the possibility of marriage between you. Just don't fucking kill me if that happens, yes? Employ me instead. I could be your personal chef?"

Hermione gave into a humorous impulse and sent him a dramatic sniff. "Perhaps, Mister Walker, perhaps. But I'm sure the competition for personal chef to the magical world's overlords will be fierce, and I'm not sure we can accept someone not even capable of producing an adequate soufflé."

"You don't even like soufflé."

Hermione stuck her tongue out at him, and giggled when Elijah started laughing, relishing in their ability to act childishly even with the dark burden that was their future hanging over them. Because she knew Elijah was no idiot. He was now probably very aware that she was actually from the future, that the future was troubled, and that their Head Boy had something to do with those troubles.

She would have to keep an eye on him. While their acquaintanceship had finally transitioned into the beginning of a friendship, she didn't know the boy well enough to predict what he might do with the information he just obtained. She felt it necessary to add, "Be careful around Riddle. He probably wouldn't be pleased to know that you overheard our conversation."

Just in case.

Elijah gave her a surprisingly somber nod. Hermione sighed, wondering at the complication that was her life, and stuffed another large piece of chocolate cake in her mouth.

Cassandra Vablatsky certainly looked like a woman that lived and breathed the 'mystical arts'. Wrapped in dramatic purple robes, she otherwise had the garments of a gypsy. A fantastical collection of beads, coins, scarves, and gauze was wrapped around her neck, wrists, waist, and ankles in a dizzying display. She jingled every time she took a step, and Hermione couldn't stop herself from judging the woman a charlatan just based on the costume she was wrapped in.

She didn't trust people who played into stereotypes. It reminded her uncomfortably of Lockhart, and the utter misfortune that had been her brief infatuation with the image he presented, rather than the actual man.

"Hello, students and faculty, and welcome to my most recent seminar series titled, Exploring Divination: The Gift of Prophesy. Now I know that Seers and prophesy-making has been overgeneralized and, dare I say, sensationalized in recent times. It has certainly become a trope favored by many contemporary wizarding authors as a convenient plot device to bring characters together, or create a sense of dramatic foreshadowing. I am here, however, to set the record straight. Together, we will discover what it means to make a true prophesy, how the manifestation of these prophesies are stored, and the impact that future-telling has had in recent and distant history."

Hermione felt her mood instantly sour. She had disliked prophecies since she was child. Ever a fan of the classics, her parents had encouraged Hermione to read Sophocles the summer after she turned ten. It turned out to be a frustrating read, however; Hermione easily determined that Oedipus' tragic circumstances were due to the interference of oracles, and couldn't understand why anyone would willingly hear their tragic fate, particularly as said fates had a tendency to be self-fulfilling.

And then Hermione's personal exposure to prophesy as it pertained to the pain and misfortune experienced by her good friend Harry cemented her enmity of the practice.

"It can sometimes be difficult to spot when a true prophesy is being made, especially if a fraud is aware of the trademarks. But it is still possible. Generally, individuals making a fake prophesy have a tendency to put an over-emphasis on the animation of their body. They may shake, or appear to go into a fit. True prophesies do not cause the body to move. In fact, as a Seer's body is made a vessel for magic to impart information, it is actually less likely to move."

In fact, this entire situation reminded Hermione of a quote her father used to make whenever he read something in the paper that he thought was particularly short-sighted. A military history aficionado, he took a particular interest in World War II, and was very fond of George S. Patton. An American general who served in the U.S. Third Army following the invasion of Normandy, John Granger particularly liked the quote, "Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable."

Clearly, when one had an option to hear a prophesy, the correct course of behavior should be to not listen.

"Prophesies have been collected and stored at the Department of Mysteries for centuries. In fact, it was originally the invention of an Unspeakable that made it possible for prophesies to be recorded in easy-to-carry, spun-glass containers. Said Unspeakable was also responsible for the safety measure implemented that made it impossible for anyone other than the recipient to have access to the prophesy."

Hermione sighed, agitated and morose, and absentmindedly doodled into the side of a parchment. She started looking around at the people sitting by her out of boredom, and was surprised to see Tom Riddle staring directly at her.

She wasn't surprised to see he was there, considering his interest in Divination. But why was he staring at her? He blinked, and no closer to an answer, Hermione's mind went off on a tangent considering the predisposition dictators (the closest thing to a Dark Lord in the muggle world) seemed to share of obsessing over the mystical and esoteric.

But then their invited speaker abruptly stopped talking in the middle of a sentence, and Hermione's attention was drawn to the front of the room. Cassandra was completely still for several long moments, and then appearing in a trance-like state, the woman slowly turned her head until she was looking directly at Hermione. In an altered voice came the words, "She whose footsteps tread time and place-"

Oh, fuck no.

Somehow sure this prophesy had something to do with her, and not at all wanting to hear any more than she already did, Hermione stood up and walked right out of the room.

Because fuck that shit.

But she still had another hour before dinner, and not wanting to risk another Dumbledore confrontation today, continued to walk until eventually she found herself outside next to the Black Lake.

She took a long moment to breathe. Felt the chilling breeze. Looked at the large expanse of water that did indeed, at this moment in time, appear black. And thought about how much better her life assuredly was not hearing what that ridiculous woman had to say.

Enjoying her time outside, she didn't think to remember that Tom had been in that room, and that he had a tendency to react irrationally to prophesies.

To be continued...

I would just like to add a quick note about why I thought Tom was willing to add loyalty as a clause to his oath, as that might seem a little OOC for him. Although he would absolutely hate being beholden to anyone, I believe he judged this as both a gamble and a necessary sacrifice. Because if Hermione was right- if he actually does eventually reach his untimely demise- that is something he needs to be able to prevent. But knowing that he has Horcruxes makes her a very dangerous individual indeed, because she would be able to kill him. He very much needs her loyalty in order to avoid the chance that she might turn on him and tell someone else how to destroy him, and so she will feel more inclined to help him with his plans. And as a person with antisocial personality disorder, and without many strong attachments to other people, I do not believe he fully understands what kind of a commitment loyalty would demand from him.

What do you think, does that make sense? Please let me know. Miss Meadow's detention next chapter, in which dear Tom and Hermione will need to confront each other about the ill-timed prophesy and the issue of their magical compatibility.

In general, what do you think? In any case, thank you so much for reading.

P.S. Thank you to those reviews that let me know Chapter 7 was posted twice. It's been fixed. I also went through and fixed all of the italics. Grr, formatting issues... :)