Chapter Seventeen: Repent and Sin
Tom loved being back home for the holidays. The reason why he loved being back home was because Hermione didn't push him away as much as she did when they were at Hogwarts. Less prying eyes, he supposed.
But, he also supposed that she should push him away more often, shouldn't she? He knew, deep down, that they shouldn't be doing this at all. He knew, deep down, that this almost-relationship wouldn't work flawlessly. He knew, deep down, that he didn't really care what other people would think.
Although, while he knew that he wouldn't care, he knew that she would. He remembered when he physically cringed the first time he realized that their parents wouldn't take kindly to their beloved children being so…well, depraved.
But he couldn't help it; he just couldn't stop, and –
She was like a drug he couldn't stop abusing. She was an addiction. Whenever he kissed her in the hidden, it was like taking a hit and he was getting high off her every time.
Or, maybe, he was just choking, because every time she would exhale into his mouth, he would gulp her air down greedily - selfishly. He would lose his oxygen to her warm carbon dioxide, and choke on her poisonous fumes.
And he did so, happily, every single time. Again, and again, and again. He would gladly die; whether it was from an overdose or asphyxiation – he didn't care – as long as he was resuscitated, so he would get to do it all over again. He would suffer the consequences of his actions at a more opportune time.
Though, it was never really an opportune time, was it? He thought of that fact as he had her pushed back up against the bathroom wall. He ran his hands up the inside of her arms he had pinned above her head, ran his tongue over her pulse on her neck, ran his cool breath over her skin to bring it to life.
They had to hide. They always had to hide. He didn't enjoy hiding.
Tom knew they wouldn't get to do this once they went back to Hogwarts after the holidays were over. She'd told him that whatever…this was between them, she didn't want anyone knowing; so, he had to make a deal: he had to keep his hands to himself.
He didn't want to keep his hands to himself.
He knew it would only be a matter of time before he was starved of her again. He knew it would only be a matter of time before he was craving her again.
She broke away from his lips, and whispered, "We're going to be late, you know."
Tom swallowed. "No, we're not."
They heard their father call for them from downstairs.
She rolled her wrists in his grip and he dropped them. There was a sudden shift; he knew it. She averted her eyes from him. "Let's go."
He watched Hermione smooth down her hair as they walked down the stairs. Hugo and Jean were waiting for them.
"Oh, Hermione, dear! I love the shade of that lip gloss on you. Is that from the set I bought you for your birthday?" Jean asked.
He watched as Hermione's smile fell and she brought her fingers to touch her lips. Her eyes were lost for only a moment before she blinked herself awake again. She dropped her hand, and smiled again. "Yes. Thank you, Mum."
Jean smiled as she put her earrings on. "You two should go get your coats on. We'll be leaving in just a few moments – don't want to be late," she told them, and started rifling through her purse. "I swear, if we're stuck sitting next to the Whittington's again this year, I'll go mad."
Hugo walked up behind her, and placed a kiss on her cheek. "Oh, come on, Jean. They aren't that bad."
The corner of Tom's mouth twitched and he took a few steps into the foyer to grab his and Hermione's coats hanging on the hooks, and walked back to them. He held Hermione's coat open for her to slip her arms into and she looked up at him, her expression unreadable.
Jean continued after she scoffed. "Please! You only say that, because Roger talks to you about football the entire time! I'd much rather listen to that than edible arrangements. Who cares? They're just chocolate covered fruits on sticks. I don't understand what all the fuss is about."
Tom let out a snort. Jean grinned. "See? Even Tom agrees with me. She's insufferable."
"Maybe you should just start bringing up procedures you've performed in the office. That'll shut her right up," Tom offered as Hermione slid her arms into her coat. Tom put his coat on next.
Their mum grinned slyly. "Oh, don't you dare tempt me, Tom. I just might. I should bring up all the horror stories involving calculus bridge removals. Lord, the look on her face would be entirely worth it, though."
"Yeah, but I bet she'd never bring up edible arrangements ever again," Tom said as he slid his fingers underneath Hermione's hair, and gently pulled her curls out of her coat. He could feel the way she tensed at his touch in front of them. He knew he shouldn't do it, but he didn't care. Instant gratification.
"We're supposed to be going to Christmas Eve mass, and yet, here we are, talking about all the ways we can exact subtle revenge on our irritating neighbors. What would Jesus say?" Hugo asked humorously.
"He would forgive us, I think," Hermione said quietly, her eyes focused on the front door. "He would forgive us for our sins, as long as we show remorse – repentance. But we must forgive, too. If we are incapable of forgiveness to others, He will never forgive us for the wrongs that we have done."
Tom could hear the implications in the tone of her voice as clear as day – she felt guilty. She felt humiliation. She felt shame.
She felt like a sinner.
"Jesus never forgave Judas," he replied and Hermione's eyes snapped to his.
"That's not true. Up on the cross, He said: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," she recited with a slight frown.
Tom shook his head. "Who said that his forgiveness applied to Judas?"
Hermione wet her lips, and stared at him. "Jesus did."
Hugo cleared his throat. "Can we take this theological debate outside, you two? We're going to be late."
They walked down the front steps, and waited for the garage door to open.
Tom tilted his head to the side, and looked at her curiously. "I believe you're romanticizing, Hermione."
"I am not romanticizing. I'm simple stating what is in the Bible," she replied irritably.
"Alright, if we're going to start using just books to state opinions on the matter, then that means Judas is currently being eaten alive for all of eternity by Satan."
The garage door finished opening and they squeezed into the backseat of the car together. Hermione rolled her eyes and said, "Seriously, Tom? Dante's Inferno?"
Tom raised an eyebrow, and leveled a pointed look on her. Hermione shifted in her seat, and clenched her jaw.
Hugo turned his body toward them, so he could back out of the driveway. "You two aren't going to do this the entire night, are you? It is Christmas, you know. Well, it almost is, technically."
"Well, if you want to get technical, Jesus wasn't even born on Christmas. So, it makes this entire night seem a bit pointless, doesn't it?" Tom asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Jean huffed out a short laugh that bordered on a scoff. "Glad to know all of those years of Sunday School are finally paying off."
Tom gave a charming smile. "Oh, but Mum; those classes were free."
Jean laughed for real this time. "You're terrible."
Hermione scoffed next to him and he turned his head to look at her again. She had her arms crossed over her chest, and was looking out the window at the Christmas lights passing them by.
Tom nudged her with his elbow playfully, and leaned in close. "If you think I'm so terrible, maybe you should pray for me, Hermione."
She didn't look at him when she whispered loud enough for only him to hear, "Yes, perhaps I should, because even Lucifer is a sinner in need of prayer."
Tom glared at her, and then moved away from her to press his back into the expensive leather of their father's car.
She was still angry with him. Why was she still angry with him?
Repentance, apparently, wasn't all that was needed for her to truly forgive him. She'd told him she'd forgiven him, but that wasn't true. Did that make her a liar, as well?
He supposed, then, that they must both be sinners.
"Come on, Tom," Theo whined. "We can get so much more work done in my lab than the shoddy community one Slughorn lets us use. They're not even properly cared for. I found rust in one of the cauldrons – rust, Tom! Who would let rust sit in the bottom of a cauldron, when it can be magicked away? It's appalling, the conditions there."
Tom sighed, and let his head fall back against the cushion on the armchair he was sitting in. The common room was busy and he didn't particularly feel like having this discussion right now. He was exhausted and his head was starting to throb. "Theodore, we've already had this discussion…"
Tom's face scrunched up when Pansy let out a shrill laugh at something that Daphne must have said from their spot at one of the windows that showcased the murky waters of the Black Lake. He brought his attention back to Theo, who was leaning forward in hopeful excitement.
"Yeah, I know we have, but think of the possibilities, Tom. Sure, we get a lot of work done together, but imagine how much more we could do if Hermione worked with us. We'd be invincible, Tom – invincible."
Blaise let out a snort, and stopped working on his essay long enough to say, "Invincible is a bit of a stretch, Theo. No one is invincible."
Tom stared at the fireplace. His brain started ticking. He had kept Hermione away from his work, because, while she was brilliant, she tended to let her morals take precedence. Her morals would hold them back, but…well, she was brilliant. She was logical. Three brilliant minds working together toward a common goal? A shudder ran through him.
Well, what she didn't know, wouldn't hurt anything, right?
"Fine," he grumbled.
A slow smile formed on Theo's face. Tom shook his head and said, "Don't expect things to go the way you want, though. You don't know Hermione like I do. She's going to disagree with –"
Tom was interrupted by a commotion from behind them.
"She told you 'no' twice already, but that word isn't in your damn vocabulary, is it?" Pansy screeched. She was standing with her chest puffed out, and toe-to-toe with Rhexenor Lestrange. Daphne was still sitting on the windowsill, on the verge of tears.
"Oh, shit," Draco muttered, and was the first to jump from his seat to help the girls. Tom slowly brought himself up, but lingered to the side to quietly observe.
"I was just talking to her, Parkinson. No need to jump down my throat," Rhex said impatiently.
Pansy put her hands on her hips, and threw her head back. "Hah! Is that what you call groping now, Lestrange? 'Talking'? I call bullshit. You grabbed her arse!"
"Watch your mouth, Parkinson, or I might be forced to give you detention."
"Oh, yeah? Watch your hands near my best friend, or I might be forced to break your damn fingers. I don't give two shits if you're Head Boy," she spat back.
Rhex licked the inside of his cheek, then said condescendingly as he got closer to her, "Oh? Is that so?"
Draco stepped between them, and faced his cousin warily. "Hey, Rhex. Let's just take it easy, yeah? I'm sure it's just a mistake."
Pansy rocked forward on her toes to peer over Draco's shoulder to spit venomously, "Yeah, and the biggest fuckin' mistake in this room is standing right in front of you!"
Rhex shoved Draco aside and he tumbled to the floor. Tom slowly drew out his wand as he watched Rhex move toward Pansy. "You bitch -"
Tom started to wave his wand to subdue Rhex from harming Pansy, but paused when she backhanded him across the face as hard as she could, and sent the older boy sprawling to the floor. Gasps echoed throughout the common room.
Blaise whistled. "Damn."
"Say that again, Lestrange. I fucking dare you. I dare you," Pansy had her wand drawn, and was struggling against Draco's grip to get to Rhex, who was still laying on the floor. Rhex took the distraction as his chance to pull his wand out, but Tom had him beat.
"Expelliarmus," Tom said calmly, and caught Lestrange's wand in his left hand. "I think that's quite enough for today, don't you?"
Rhex pushed himself up from the floor, and glared. "Who do you think you are, Riddle? I'm not taking orders from someone like you."
The room went deathly quiet.
Tom raised his eyebrows curiously, and pursed his lips. "Someone like me?" he asked politely, and walked around the older boy. Tom could see he was shaking with anger. He cherished every moment of it.
"Hmm, someone like me, someone like me," he repeated, then came to a halt in front of Rhex. He tilted his head to the side. "Did you mean someone who is more intelligent than you? Someone with better grades? Or, did you mean someone who can get a girl to go on a date with them without having to resort to molestation?"
Rhex let out an angry exhale that shook his entire body.
Tom smiled coldly. "Ah, perhaps you meant someone who doesn't need his mummy and daddy to line the board of Governor's pockets with galleons to secure a job at the Ministry after graduation?"
"Oh, you know what I meant, Riddle. And it's quite alright," Rhex said with a bitter smile. "Greengrass is a little too prissy for me, anyway. I prefer my women to be a bit more…oh, how do we say, uh –" he paused, and ran his tongue over the front of his top teeth, "obstinate."
It took everything in Tom to not backhand him again at the implication of his words, but his thoughts were interrupted.
"You're a fuckin' sick bastard, you know that, right?" snapped a disheveled Pansy, who was still barely being held back by Draco.
Right after Pansy said that, the sound of the bricks grinding together made the entire common room go back to what they were doing. Professor Slughorn walked in, looking his typical cheerful self. "Ah, Mr. Lestrange, there you are! Say, why are you sitting there on the floor? It's nearly February! Yes, much too cold down here to be sitting on the floor like that."
"We were just having a little dueling match, sir. You walked in right at the end of it, I'm afraid," Tom answered quickly, then held Rhexenor's wand down to him and the older boy glared up at him. He didn't take it, at first. An entire conversation passed between them without a single syllable being uttered.
"Oh, I missed it? That's a shame, that's a shame. But, you two should be setting a good example as Head Boy and a Prefect! Even a friendly dueling match should be reserved for the dueling club!" the professor said.
Tom watched as Rhex's fingers curled around his wand to take it back and he finally stood up. Rhex brushed his uniform off and said charmingly, "You're absolutely right, sir. It doesn't really set a good example for the younger students, does it?"
Tom saw Pansy move forward out of the corner of his eye, but he held up a hand to stop her while Slughorn was busy talking to Rhex. He heard her let out a scoff, but she remained silent.
"Right, you are. Say, if you're done, I was wondering if I might have a word with you? Head Boy business, of course!"
"Of course, Professor," Rhex replied and Slughorn bid them all farewell before leaving.
"Why didn't you tell Slughorn about what really happened, Tom?" Draco asked quietly after they were out of earshot.
Tom watched the retreating forms of Slughorn and Lestrange leaving the common room. Right before the stones slid back into place after they walked out, Rhex turned around, and looked straight at him. The look in his eyes held hatred; he was familiar with that emotion. The only thing that concerned him about the look was the fact that there was something else in there – another emotion that he wasn't familiar with.
"Because humiliation is the cruelest form of punishment," came a voice next to them. Tom looked over to see Daphne looking at the exit, and was rubbing her arm uneasily. She glanced up at him, and smiled weakly. "Thank you, Tom."
He nodded once, then ran his hand through his hair, and sighed. "Alright, I'm turning in early. Try not to burn the castle down while I'm asleep."
"No promises there," Blaise said with a smirk.
Tom rolled his eyes, and sighed, "Of course not."
Quite possibly Hermione's least favorite thing about the winter were the shorter days. She preferred walking through the corridors when sunlight was streaming through the stained-glass windows. It was always so beautiful.
Unfortunately, she was forced to walk through the empty hallways for her Prefect rounds with only the sconces on the walls to light her way. Oh, well. Better than nothing, she supposed.
Right when she was about to turn a corner, she heard the sound of hurried footsteps echoing off the walls. It filled her with dread. Honestly, she hated docking points and giving detention, but duty was duty…
She turned the corner, and almost ran headfirst into the student. Her eyes widened in surprise. Bloody marvelous.
"Oh, Lestrange. It's you. I thought there was a student out of bed," she said, and wished she hadn't been thinking how much she didn't like giving out detentions just a moment ago. She really didn't feel like dealing with Lestrange.
Rhex shook his head and his dark curls swayed. "No, I'm running errands. Which reminds me – here," he pulled out a small scroll of parchment out of his robes, and handed it to her.
Hermione looked at the scroll skeptically. Why was he acting so…well, civil? She thought that maybe he'd learned his lesson after their little altercation a few months ago, so she decided to try and do her best to be civil, too. "What is it?"
Rhex rolled his eyes, and sighed. "It's the new patrolling timetable for the term. I meant to get it out sooner, but things have been…chaotic."
"Oh," she said, and took the parchment from him. She looked it over for a few seconds. "This is very…efficient. It looks like you put a lot of work into it. Thank you."
Rhex frowned slightly at her response, and stared at her. "Yeah, I guess I did. You're…welcome, Granger."
Hermione gave a small nod. "Alright, better finish my rounds."
Rhex left first, and rounded the corner to walk down the corridor Hermione had come from. She shook her head, and continued walking.
What was that all about?
Hermione had known that Theo had his own potion lab set up somewhere in Hogwarts, but she'd never guessed it was in an abandoned and forgotten bathroom. She looked around in awe at how large it was, compared to the others. The first thing she noticed was the small sitting area they'd set up off to the side, and then she noticed the circular set of sinks sitting in the center of the room. In each sink sat a cauldron; all of them had some sort of potion bubbling in them and each flame underneath was set at a different level.
"So, what do you think?" asked Theo apprehensively.
She walked around the column of sinks, and let her fingers run along the porcelain. "It's impressive. When you told me you wanted to show me your potions lab, I wasn't expecting this. It's amazing, Theo, really."
Theo let out heavy sigh, and smiled. "You really think so?"
"Are you kidding? Your set-up is far superior than even Professor Slughorn's. Granted, the cauldrons are in sinks, but-"
"They retain the heat better, which-"
"Makes the temperature easier to manipulate," Hermione finished for him, and grinned. Theo grinned back. "Yes, ingenious, honestly. You're brilliant, Theo."
"Well, you and Tom are the only other ones who even thought of that. Blaise looked at me like I was mad when I said I didn't want to put the cauldrons on a table," Theo joked.
"If you two are quite done stroking each other's egos, we have work to do for our project," interrupted Tom. He pushed up his sleeves, and started rummaging through what must have been their supply closet.
Hermione had nearly forgotten he was there. She walked over to where he was hunched over, collecting various bottles and phials. Her eyes scanned the upper shelves. "Have you brewed all of these, Theo?" she called over her shoulder.
"Hmm? Oh, most of them, yeah. Tom and Draco brewed some of them."
"Blaise hates potioneering," Tom added, still crouched on the floor. "He's one of the fussiest people I've ever met when it comes to getting dirty."
Hermione let out a snort, and continued reading labels on the assorted bottles. They were all different colors, different shapes, different smells. A small, plain glass phial with a white label caught her eye. She reached for it, and replied, "Probably doesn't want to get his cuticles dirty."
She vaguely heard Tom laugh, and say something else, but it was white noise. All she could focus on was the label on the phial: Unattraction Potion.
Everything from last year came flooding back to her. All of the lies, all of the tears, all of the hurt. Her eyes left the phial to gaze down at Tom.
All of the guilt, all of the shame, all of the heartache.
She noticed too late that Tom had been saying her name and she hadn't replied, so he looked up at her. His face went blank when he saw what she was holding. She hastily set it back on the shelf, and wiped away her tears with the heels of her palms. She wouldn't cry. She wouldn't -
"I shouldn't have come here."
"Hermione, just forget about it, alright?" he whispered, and held onto her wrist to lead her back to the workstation. "Come on, that project is due in a few weeks. We should get started on-"
Her chest felt tight with indignation and she ripped her arm out of his grasp. "Forget about it? You expect me to just forget about it?"
"Seriously? I thought we were over this already. I told you the truth, we discussed it, I apologized. What more do you want?" he snapped back.
Hermione faltered. "I…I don't know."
"You said you'd forgiven me, but you're still angry, aren't you? You're still angry with me over Krum."
"I…don't know if I am. I thought I wasn't, but I don't know."
Tom let his head fall back with a sigh and he stared at the ceiling for a moment before looking at her again. She could tell he was getting angry. "Well, what do you know, Hermione?"
She didn't say anything, and glared at him.
"Tell me," Tom said.
She pressed her lips together tighter.
"Tell me, Hermione! What do you know!?"
"I know that I'm leaving!" she replied hotly, and stormed past a bewildered Theo.
"But…but our potion," he whined weakly.
"I'm sorry, Theo. It'll have to be another time. I'm not in the right frame of mind right now," she told him as she waited for the painting to open. Theo just nodded, and glanced uncertainly between her and Tom.
"Get back in here. Don't you dare leave, Hermione," Tom commanded through clenched teeth.
She turned her head to look at him once more before yelling, "Piss off!"
The moment before she heard the painting slam behind her, she also heard the sound of glass shattering against a wall.
How dare he? She probably would have stayed, and continued to work on their project if he weren't such an insensitive prick. Of course – oh, of fucking bloody course he wanted her to forget everything that he did. That would make it easy on him, wouldn't it?
"Sure, I'll just completely disregard everything, just because it suits you. What a fu—ugh!" she muttered agitatedly to herself as she stormed down the corridor.
Hermione was so busy lost in her own angry thoughts that she didn't notice the hand that shot out to grab her wrist until she was pressed against a cold wall and a warm body. She felt his nose press against her temple, and heard an unsteady inhale breathing in her scent.
She was about to yell at Tom for following her after she specifically told him not to, but she realized the smell was wrong. The hands were wrong. The height was wrong. Everything was wrong, wrong, wrong.
"Hello, Hermione," Rhex breathed against the shell of her ear. She could feel him smiling against her cheekbone. "I want to tell you a secret."
A/N: *hides* Please, don't murder me. Cos I love you. Oh, God. There are probably typos in this chapter. I proofread it at 1am, in between yawns and watering eyes and it wasn't really beta'd. Cos I know they're probably not awake right now and I'm far too impulsive to wait.
I don't know when it'll be until my next update! My life is crazy right now and tbh, I'm shocked I was able to write this. I just kept reading through all your reviews, and pushed myself. I love you guys. Ugh. So muuuch.
If you want some more Tomione to read after this, I just added a new story last week called 'Influenced at Ilvermorny'. It was my entry in the Tomione Fest! It won Overall Fave and a bunch of other categories! [insert bragging rights here, cos I'm not usually a bragger] I dunno, I'm really excited for what I have planned for that one, too. Anyone love teacher!Tom/student!Hermione? Cos I sure af do. I love all things forbidden, apparently.