A/N: I do not give trigger warnings. There will be content in this story that may make you uncomfortable. The two things I will absolutely never write are graphic rape scenes or pedophilia, but everything else is fair game. You've been warned.

My beta/muse is my best buddy, Radiant Innocence. Go check out her stories, because they are pretty awesome, and she is pretty awesome. She made the banner for this story, as well. It makes me happy. If you follow me on Tumblr, you can see all of my trashy Tomione fanart. Username is NinjaFairy86.

Anyway, here's another Tomione story from me, to you.

Synopsis: Tom Marvolo Riddle wasn't born in 1926 - he was born in 1979. After being shuffled from foster home to foster home in the greater London area, he finally settles down with a foster family that he's stayed with longer than a few months: the Granger family. Hermione's parents are well pleased that the ten-year-old boy has acclimated to their family so well, but Hermione's not so sure that's the real reason why he's decided to stay... [Magical/AU]

Chapter One: A New Brother

How could one truly tell when they were having a nightmare?

Did one know once they woke up in a cold sweat? Was it when a person woke up in tears, screaming their head off? Or could a person be subconsciously aware during their nightmare, and twist it to their favor?

It was difficult to remember what life was like before her parents started fostering the nightmare. It was like looking through a dirty window: you could make out the shapes of the grass, the trees, and the lovely flowers – but the dirt caused the scenery to become distorted. The grass was barren. The trees were gnarled. The flowers were wilted. Life was meant to be picturesque, but she could see her new life for what it really was now, through that dirty window – a nightmare disguised as a well-mannered, little boy.

A well-mannered, little boy with charcoal hair, charcoal eyes, and a charcoal heart.

When he spoke to their parents, he was all yes ma'am, no sir, and could you please pass the salt. When he spoke to her when they were alone, his words were dipped in acid first – to make the corrosion permanent.

Like any acidic corrosion, it ate away at her. It ate away at her mind. It ate away at her heart. It ate away at her confidence, but she had refused to let it eat away at her soul.

She would never let the nightmare corrode her soul.

Hermione Jean Granger had decided that she was going to be subconsciously aware, and twist the nightmare into her favor.

The preparations were almost complete.

The new furniture was flawlessly arranged. The blue plaid bedspread was neat, and tidy. The matching curtains were drawn back, letting plenty of natural sunlight in on the desk positioned by the window. Everything looked perfect.

Hermione put her hands on her hips proudly, and smiled to herself. She was so happy that her parents had left her in charge of adding the final touches to the room. The pillows were fluffed, the hangers were in a neat row, and all the newly purchased boys' clothes were folded precisely in their corresponding drawers.

Now, all that was left to do was to wait. She felt excited, and nervous. Her new foster brother would be arriving soon. The time. What was the time? She ran out of the room, and down the hall to her room to peek at her clock: fifteen minutes until two in the afternoon. Fifteen more minutes!

Their summer was going to be perfect. Hermione had it all planned out. They were going to go swimming at the pool down on Howard Street. They were going to get ice cream sundaes every Saturday afternoon. They were going to visit the library, and talk about all the things they enjoyed. Her parents even said they were going to visit the zoo and the Natural History Museum in London at the end of the summer. It was the perfect way to end the summer before they'd start their fifth year at school together.

The sound of the doorbell ringing through the house jarred Hermione out of her thoughts. Were they early? Was he already here? She grasped the cool banister, and ran down the stairs, unable to control her beaming smile. Her father had opened the door right as she was three steps away from the bottom. She slid to a screeching halt.

There he was, standing on the front porch next to the a neatly dressed social worker. Hermione's eyes traveled over him quickly. He had charcoal hair, charcoal eyes, and fair skin. He was wearing a worn Manchester United shirt, faded blue jeans, and hand-me-down trainers. Her heart dropped when she noticed the black trash bag that he was holding over his shoulder. Her mum had told her that foster children had little in the way of belongings. It made her feel so…sad.

"Good afternoon, my name is Hugo," her father introduced himself. The woman started talking with her father, but she took no notice of their words.

He was staring at her.

Just…staring at her.

He hadn't even looked at her father when he'd opened the door. Hermione's smile had faltered for just a moment when the boy didn't return it, but she'd recovered quickly. Mum had told her that he would be a shy, and a little out of sorts. She'd said not to expect him to want to socialize much, because he would probably be overwhelmed. He needed time to acclimate, she said. Her parents had briefly explained to her how most foster children grew up and it had broken her heart. Hermione wanted to make her new brother feel welcome, and loved. She wanted to make his life better – to make him happy.

"Please, come in. Make yourselves right at home." Her father stood aside to let her new foster brother and the social worker in, then closed the door.

"Jean! They're here!" Her father called toward the kitchen, then looked back at the boy, and smiled. "Tom, I'd like you to meet our daughter, Hermione. She's been very excited to meet you."

Hermione smiled at him, and took this as her cue to hold out her hand to shake his. Tom's face was blank as he looked at her extended hand, then lifted his eyes to meet hers. He held her eyes for several moments before lifting his free hand to shake hers. He'd made her a little worried for a second – she didn't think he was going to take her hand at all, at first.

"It's so nice to meet you, Tom. I think we're going to have lots of fun together," Hermione smiled enthusiastically.

Her heartbeat slowed down when a small smile curled the corner of his mouth. "Yes. I think so, too."

Hermione swallowed, the saliva thick on her tongue.

It took him fifteen seconds to let go of her hand.

She knew, because she had counted.

The first night of Tom staying with them had been a bit more uneventful than she had been hoping for. They had sat down for dinner in the evening, as her parents tried making casual conversation.

The only problem was, Tom hadn't seemed up for casual conversation. He answered their questions efficiently, and with as little words as possible. She'd also noticed his eyes would occasionally dart over the dining room before they settled back to his plate. Then, he had gone up to his room and went straight to bed.

Tom really was just a quiet, well-mannered boy. Hermione had to be patient. Once he was comfortable with his new life here, she knew they would be the best of friends. She was sure of it.

After having decided that she was done thinking about the night before, she decided to watch her favorite Saturday morning program: Wide Awake Club. She didn't care for watching television much, but the show was educational. Rather juvenile, but still educational.

Hermione turned the television on, and laid down on her stomach on the living room floor. She watched the screen with mild interest, and swayed her bare feet back and forth lazily behind her.

Hermione blinked in confusion when the channel changed to the news. Was she laying on the remote again? She lifted herself up to look underneath her, but it wasn't there. That was odd.

Once she'd turned around, she'd discovered the reason why the channel had changed. It was Tom. He was sitting on the loveseat, with remote in hand, leisurely flipping through the channels.

"Oh, good morning, Tom. I was watching something. Did you want to watch it with me?" Hermione asked politely.

Tom continued flipping through the channels. Without looking at her, he said, "No."

Hermione blinked, and sat down on the sofa. Mum had also said to be especially nice – that foster children could sometimes be a bit sensitive.

"Alright. We can watch something else, if you'd like," she said carefully.

"That's what I was planning on," he said sharply.

Hermione's eyes widened at his rude behavior, but kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to disappoint her parents by not listening to them. "O…kay. What do you want to watch, then?"

"I don't know."

"Do you like Nickelodeon?" she asked.

His upper lip curled in disgust. Okay. So, he didn't like Nickelodeon.



A moment later, his sneer was replaced by rapt fascination. Hermione turned her head to the television to see what he was so eager to watch.

There were three men in a dark room. One of them was chained against something, while another one was asking him questions. The man chained to the wall looked like he was in pain. Hermione didn't like it.

"Can you change the channel, please? We're not allowed to watch this kind of stuff."


The man chained to the wall refused to answer the questions. A dial was turned. There was a buzzing sound, and the man began shaking violently. Hermione stood up, covered her hands over her eyes, and shook her head.

"I don't want to watch this! Please, change it!" she begged.

That's when she felt someone standing behind her, and her hands were ripped from her face. Tom was gripping her hands in his, and digging his chin into her shoulder uncomfortably.

"Watch," he commanded quietly. He was forcing her to witness the scene play out. The man's fingers bent at weird angles from the electrical currents. The light bulb in the room flickered as he screamed. It was too much. Hermione began crying.

"Shh, no need to cry, Hermione," Tom soothed, and wiped her tears away with his fingers clumsily.

"I don't want to watch this. Let's watch something else. Please."

Tom went to reply to her, but then the sound of shuffling feet was coming down the stairs. He moved away from her to grab the remote, and changed it back to the channel she had it on. Her mum walked into the room wearing her fluffy robe and slippers.

"Oh, good morning, you two. You were watching the Wide Awake Club? That's one of Hermione's favorite programs," she said between yawns.

"Yes. Hermione was excited to watch it with me," Tom stated before Hermione could say anything. He switched to a sad tone, "I wasn't allowed to watch the tele at the last place I lived…"

Jean Granger's face took on a fleeting look of sorrow, before it was replaced by happy determination. "Hermione, that was so thoughtful of you, dear!"

Hermione felt her cheeks go pink at being falsely praised.

"Well, you'll be allowed to watch the tele here, Tom. Hermione doesn't watch it that much, but you're more than welcome to it. Now, I was thinking about whipping up a traditional English breakfast today! Eggs, bacon, beans, tomatoes, and toast! How does that sound?"

Tom gave her a shy smile. "That sounds delicious. Do you need any help?"

Jean beamed at him. "Thank you so much, Tom, but no. I just want you two to relax, and enjoy yourselves. Hermione, why don't you show Tom some of your toys?"

Hermione's eyes widened slightly. Tom turned to her, and smiled.

"Sure. That sounds like lots of fun."

Hermione thought that showing Tom her toys wasn't as much fun as it should have been.

He'd ripped the head off one of her dolls. He hadn't even apologized for it.

Patience. Her mum told her to have patience. So, patience is what Hermione forced herself to have.

If Hermione had thought that Sunday was going to be any better than Saturday, she was sorely mistaken.

They had all stopped by the local toy store after church for Tom to pick out his own toys, but he hadn't wanted anything. So, Hermione picked out a nice bug catching kit for the two of them to play with in their backyard when they got home.

Everything was going rather well. Tom was looking through the bushes in the backyard and Hermione was weeding through the flowers.

"Have you found anything yet?" he called from the other side of the yard.

"No, not yet," she called back.

Hermione carefully moved a clump of rosebushes aside to peek in. She sighed dejectedly, and released the leaves. Not even a grasshopper. Suddenly, a large butterfly with orange, brown, and black colored wings fluttered by, and landed on a nearby flower. Hermione stilled, afraid to make any sudden movements. She willed it to stay put, stay put.

Hermione swooped the bug catching net with careful precision down onto the butterfly, effectively catching it without harm.

"I caught a butterfly! Tom, I caught a butterfly!" she squealed in delight.

Tom rushed over to her. "Let me see."

"Quick, get the identification booklet! What kind is it?" Hermione asked, ignoring his demand in her excitement.

Tom sighed, and pulled the booklet out of his back pocket. He flipped through the pages, and his eyes flicked across the words quickly. "It's a Speckled Wood."

Hermione had transferred the butterfly to the viewing case while he had been looking in the booklet. She held the viewing case as she peered over his shoulder to look at the page. "What does it say about them?"

Tom looked directly in her eyes then. The corners of his lips curled up slowly, and his eyes sparkled. "It says that their lifespan is only seven to twenty days."

Hermione's eyebrows furrowed. She held the viewing case a little tighter. "Okay. What else?"

"The males use their wings to scare off intruders."

She looked down at the viewing tank in curiosity. "Oh, that's interesting. I wonder if this is a male, or a female. Hey!"

Tom had snatched the viewing case out of her hands. Hermione tried grabbing it back from him, but he twisted his body this way, and that to get away from her. He quickly opened the viewing case, gently pinched the butterfly's wings together, and picked it up.

"What are you doing!? Once you touch their wings, they can't fly again!" Hermione yelled, still trying to reach her short arms out to stop him. He just held her back with his free hand. Without any warning, he used that same hand to shove her back. Hermione dropped the net, and landed on her bum in the soft grass.

"Really? Is that so?" he asked in interest, not looking at her. His attention was focused solely on the butterfly. He switched his hold on the butterfly, holding it by its body instead.

Hermione watched the scene unfold in horror as the butterfly beat its wings frantically, trying to escape. Tom grabbed a hold of one of its wings, and gently pulled up, up, up until the wing separated neatly from its body. The butterfly fluttered its one remaining wing weakly against Tom's fingers.

Hermione couldn't hear it, but she imagined the butterfly was screaming. Or, maybe, it was the ringing in her ears. She didn't find her voice until he'd pulled the other wing off, leaving the butterfly earthbound.

"You've…you've killed it!" she cried out, finally bringing herself up to stand.

"No, I haven't. It's still alive. See?" he said, and shoved the insect in her face. Hermione's eyes crossed momentarily, and she tilted her head back away from it in disgust.

"How is it supposed to live without wings, Tom? It needs to fly."

"No, it doesn't. I can keep it here - in this case. I can take care of it."

Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "That's impossible."

Tom lowered the butterfly back in the viewing case. Hermione watched in morbid fascination at the way it wobbled this way and that, now that it didn't have its wings. The poor thing – its freedom was stolen.

Hermione scowled at him, feeling angry at something innocent being wronged. "I'm telling."

Tom's attention snapped back to Hermione in an instant. "Go ahead. Tell on me. Tell on the poor, little foster boy."

She paused momentarily at his last comment, deciding on whether she should go and tell. She watched the poor butterfly walk aimlessly in the plastic case, and glanced at the butterfly wings in the grass. Her resolve hardened and she shoved past him, and walked through the back door. He trailed behind her, but kept his distance.

"Mum! Dad!"

"We're in here, dear," she heard her father call from the kitchen.

Hermione stomped down the hallway, and through the dining room before she found herself in the kitchen. Tom was still behind her. She couldn't see him, but she could feel him.

"What's wrong?" her mother asked, looking slightly concerned.

Hermione pointed her finger accusingly at Tom without looking at him and said, "He ripped the wings off the butterfly I caught!"

Her parent's eyes were trained behind her at Tom, but they didn't look upset. They looked…concerned? Why did they look concerned?

Hermione turned around. Tom was standing there in the entryway, holding the case, and holding back tears in his eyes. His bottom lip quivered.

"I…I didn't mean to! I just wanted to look at it. I saved the wings. Can we fix it? Can we take it to the veterinarian? Maybe they can glue them back on?" he asked hopelessly. The saltiest of tears began to trail down his pale cheeks. Hermione's hand lowered slowly as she stared at him in shock. That…little…liar.

Jean leaned down to hug Tom, and smoothed his hair. She pulled herself away to look at his face and said, "Accidents happen, Tom. Don't worry about it."

His lower lip trembled as he looked at her. "Can…can I keep it?"

Jean's face fell at his believable innocence. "Oh, Tom. I'm afraid that it won't survive."

"See? I told you!" Hermione stated triumphantly. She knew she'd been right.

"Hermione!" her parents berated simultaneously. Hermione shrunk at her parent's tones. Tom started sobbing.

"Hermione, I think it's best if you went to your room for a little while," her father said calmly.

"What? Why? That's not fair! I didn't do anything wro -"

"Hermione," her father warned. He meant business, and Hermione wasn't about to argue with him.

"Fine," she said through gritted teeth. She narrowed her eyes at Tom. Her mother was hugging him, trying to calm his tears. In the midst of her mother's limbs, she could see his victorious smile.

Hermione turned in a huff, and walked upstairs to her room. It wouldn't be so bad staying in her room. At least she'd have her books to keep her sanity.

It had been several weeks since the butterfly incident, and Tom had been acting better acclimated to his new home life when compared to his first weekend. No watching questionable movies, no breaking her toys, and no ripping apart butterflies. He'd been rather…pleasant to be around.

Trips to the library with her parents and Tom were her favorite thing about her summer. Hermione thought they might be Tom's favorite thing, as well. As soon as they set foot through the double doors, he was gone. Gone, looking through shelves, never staying in the same place for very long. He'd take books off the shelves about anything, and everything. He was sorely disappointed that he was only allowed a twenty-book limit for check outs.

Buying into his disappointment, her parents made two to three trips a week. Hermione hadn't minded, but was a little miffed that whenever she'd asked if they could go more than once a week, she was told no, sweetheart, not this week.

Oh, well. She knew they would start telling Tom 'no', too. It was only a matter of time. They only told him yes so much to appease him. For now, she would just enjoy the extra library time.

After returning home, both of them, with twenty books each - no less - had begun reading in the drawing room. It was a nice, comfortable silence that they'd both preferred. Tom was reading about ancient Greece and Hermione was reading about the human skeleton. Her mum had even brought in orange scones, and tea for them to share. It was a perfect afternoon.

Well, it was a perfect afternoon until Hermione opened her big mouth. Curiosity, and her need for conversation were to blame.

"What is your favorite thing about ancient Greece?" she asked.

Tom pulled his eyes away from his book to look at her for a long moment, then looked back down to his book. He turned a page and said, "The Trojan War."

Surprise, surprise.

"Really? Why is that?" she asked conversationally.

He smirked, and turned another page. "Many reasons. War. Killing. Glory. Fun stuff."

"That's not all that happens. I prefer to believe that the foundation of the whole myth is based on love," she stated.

Tom scoffed at her. "Love? The whole war started because the Greek gods were vain idiots."

Hermione frowned. Okay, technically he was right, but she didn't want to agree with him.

"Paris and Helen fell in love," she said.

Tom rolled his eyes. "You're so naïve."

"I am not!"

"Are so."

"Am not!"

Tom set his book down, and grinned. "Are so."

Hermione felt angry at his grinning face, and wanted to hit him, but she refrained. "You're mean."

"And you're stupid."

Without thinking, she threw her book at him, and hit him square in the chest. Tom's face twisted with anger. Hermione glared at him, bracing herself for him to retaliate.

But, instead of retaliating like any normal ten-year-old boy would do, he picked up her book, and began flipping through the pages.

Hermione frowned in confusion. "What are you doing?"

Tom didn't say anything as he looked at her. He raised an eyebrow, tilted his head, and slowly tore a page out of her book.

Hermione's eyes went wide. She lunged for the book, but he used his feet to keep her away. "Stop! Stop it! That's not mine – it's the library's!"

Tom said nothing, and his expression said nothing as he tore another page out. And another. And another. He was nonchalantly tossing each page to the floor as he did so.

"STOP!" Hermione screamed, and jumped on him to make a grab for the book. They both tumbled to the ground in a mess of limbs – both trying to tear the book from the other. They had both been so busy wrestling on the floor, they hadn't noticed her parents walk into the room.

They heard a gasp and then, "What in the world is going on here!?"

Tom and Hermione stilled, and looked at each other with wide eyes. Then, they both slowly turned their faces to witness the shocked expression on their parent's faces.

They both jumped apart, stood, and looked at their toes. Hermione didn't know when it had happened, but she had ended up with the torn book. She hid it behind her back sheepishly.

"Care to explain? Tom? Hermione?" her father asked. Hermione stepped forward before Tom could.

"Tom tore the pages out of my library book!" She knew he couldn't get out of this one: the evidence was all over the floor.

"Only because Hermione threw the book at me!" Tom defended.

"Because you called me stupid!"

"Because you are stupid – "

"That's enough," came her father's loud voice. Tom and Hermione stopped arguing with each other. "Hermione, you know better than to throw things at people."

Hermione jaw dropped. Tom looked smug. How was he getting out of being in trouble again?

Her father turned to Tom and said, "And Tom, you should know better than to call people names."

The smug look on his face fell. Victory.

"Both of you are going to clean this mess up, and go straight to your rooms to think about what you've done."

They both muttered underneath their breaths.

"And no trip to the ice cream parlor after supper tonight," he added.

"What?" said Tom.

"That's not fair!" said Hermione.

"It's not up for debate. Clean, then rooms. Now," he said, and left the room.

"Mum, that's not fair! Tell him," Hermione whined. Hermione had been looking forward to the trip to the ice cream parlor all week.

"I'm sorry, dear. Better listen to your Father. Consider this a lesson learned on both your parts," her mum said, then also left.

Hermione turned, and started picking up the pages angrily. She just wanted to clean up, and go to her room to get away from Tom.

"It's all your fault, you know," he said.

Hermione's nostrils flared, but she kept her mouth shut. He wasn't even helping. She didn't care. After she picked up all the papers, she grabbed her book, and went to walk out of the room. But, before she left, she paused. Tom watched her curiously.

She glared at him before she walked over to the desk, and began opening drawers. After she stuffed a roll of clear tape into her back pocket, she popped an orange scone into her mouth to hold, since her hands were full.

Hermione gave Tom one last menacing glare with the scone hanging out of her mouth, and walked out of the room.

It didn't make any sense. No matter what Hermione did, the tape wouldn't stick the pages together. The tape stuck to her fingers. It stuck to her clothes. It stuck to her hair. It stuck to everything else, but not the book.

Tears of frustration began rolling down her cheeks as the tape that stuck to her fingers simply slid off the pages.

When she told her parents at supper that she'd failed at putting the book back together, they'd told her that her and Tom would have to pay for the book out of their allowance. The book cost twenty pounds! Twenty! It wasn't fair, but her father said she was partly responsible, since she'd thrown it.

It also wasn't fair that Tom looked pleased when she said the tape wouldn't work. He had to pay ten pounds out of his own allowance money, too.

He shouldn't be pleased over this matter. Not at all.

It really wasn't fair.

On the following Saturday, Hugo said the only way Hermione and Tom could earn a trip to the ice cream parlor after supper was to clean the kitchen spick and span. Hermione didn't want to clean the kitchen with Tom, but she really wanted a Turkish delight ice cream sundae.

So, begrudgingly, she grabbed the broom and dust pan, while Tom grabbed a washcloth and a spray bottle. They got to work without a fuss.

After some time had passed, they heard Hugo's voice from the living room, "You have five minutes to finish cleaning if you want to go. I hope you're almost done."

Hermione stilled, and looked at the stack of dishes in front of her in the sink. There was no way she was going to get all of it finished in five minutes. Tom walked over with the washcloth and spray bottle in hand, and nudged her out of the way with his body.

"Hey!" she admonished.

Tom rolled his eyes and opened the cabinet she had been standing in front of. "I need to put these away. Now, shut up, and open the dishwasher."

"You can't tell me what to do!"

Tom glared at her. "Do you want to get ice cream tonight, or not?"

Hermione faltered.

"Exactly. I don't want to miss out on getting ice cream again, because you are too slow. So, shut up, and open the dishwasher," he repeated firmly.

Hermione sighed, and did as he said. Tom wiped the dishes in the sink quickly, before handing them to Hermione to put in the racks.

Right as Tom handed Hermione the last fork, Hugo walked into the kitchen. "Are you two finished yet?"

Hermione shut the dishwasher door quickly, and turned it on. She smiled at her father and said, "Finished!"

Hugo smiled at the two of them. "See what happens when you two work together? Things go much more smoothly. Alright, let's get going. You two deserve some ice cream."

Hermione and Tom gave each other a look for a moment, before they both hurried after him.

Hermione glanced at Tom during the car ride to the ice cream parlor. He had his head pressed to the glass of the window, and his eyes flicked back and forth quickly at the scenery passing by. Her parents were talking about something to do with their dental clinic, so she tuned them out.

"Thank you," she blurted out quietly, not even sure what had possessed her to say it. She was still mad at him over the book.

Tom turned his head to her, and his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You're welcome," he said slowly.

Hermione felt her face burn and she turned her head quickly to look out her window. She stole a quick glance back at him. His head was pressed up against the glass again, but this time there was a small smile on his lips.

She didn't need to explain why she thanked him. He already knew.

It had taken several weeks for Hermione to get over how Tom tore up the book. Not only because she had to take it out of her allowance, but because it had taken a sizeable chunk out of her pride, too.

Hermione had begun to talk to Tom again, other than when it was absolutely necessary. She'd be lying to herself if she'd said she didn't miss his company when he wasn't being mean. Having a sibling was harder work than she had originally anticipated.

It was a nice day today, so they were riding their bikes on the sidewalk in the front of the house. Tom was being annoying with ringing his bell repeatedly, but it was far easier to deal with than arguing.

Hermione rode her bike to the end of the street, and stopped. The plastic ribbons on her handlebars swayed when she shuffled her bike back around.

That's when she noticed a stray kitten, all fluffy and grey, mewling next to the neighbors trash bin. Hermione froze, not wanting to scare it away, and not wanting to attract Tom's attention. She glanced down at the far end of the sidewalk.

Tom's back was to her. He was propped up on his bike, but he wasn't riding it. Instead, he had found a tree branch, and was hitting their mailbox post repeatedly. Good.

Hermione kicked out her bike stand, and carefully made her way toward the kitten. It noticed Hermione, and started inching away from her.

"Shh, it's alright, sweetheart. Come here. Come here," she sweet talked. The kitten's ears twitched, then it meowed again. It took an uncertain step toward her. "Yes, that's it," Hermione smiled.

Out of nowhere, a cardboard box was slammed over the kitten, effectively trapping it. It cried. Tom was grinning wildly at the box, and the corners were giving away under his weight.

"Tom! Let it go! I almost had it!" Hermione cried out, trying to pry his hands off the box.

He shoved her hands away, and grinned maliciously at her. "Hey, Hermione. Want to see a magic trick?"

"What?" Hermione thought of the butterfly, and she panicked. "No!"

Tom's smile was calculating. "So, is that a yes?"

"I just said no!"

"I'm going to make this cat disappear," he said.

"You're bluffing," she said, crossing her arms. "You can't make the kitten just disappear like that. You're not a real magician."

Tom's grin turned into a determined smirk. He picked up the stick he'd used to hit the mailbox post with, pulled it back behind him, and swung it at the box at full force.

Hermione cried out when the box went flying into the road. She looked around frantically.

"Where is it? Tom! Where is it!?"

The look he turned on her was cold – his smile gone. "Magic," he said coldly, and walked back to his bike.

Hermione had checked around the trash bin, inside the cardboard box, and had said 'here, kitty, kitty, kitty' for fifteen minutes.

The kitten was nowhere to be found. She couldn't find it anywhere.

She looked back at Tom, who was down the sidewalk again. He was ringing the bell on his bike.

Over, and over, and over again.

A/N: Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.