((A.N. Chapter 1. In which Hermione runs into Tom Riddle. This story is just getting started, believe me. I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed last time. I got far more feedback for the first chapter than I thought I would. Thanks to Zaralya, tearsthatfall, Alora55, EuphoniumGirl10(welcome back!), sheelfhunnie, Miss Cleo, Deepseadolphin,and Loriliant Angelisa Snape(I'm soglad you like it! exhales):DBut most of all, a huge thank you to Drama Shethan, my beta reader! I don't know what I'd do without you! Without further ado, then.))

We can easily forgive a child that is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy in life is when men are afraid of the light.

– Plato

Chapter 1

When Tom Riddle woke up the next morning, his strange dream was one of the last things on his mind. Being Head Boy, Tom had his own dormitory – along with a private bathroom. That was one of the reasons that he had wanted to be Head Boy in the first place; he preferred solitude to company at all times. There were times, though, when being alone with his own thoughts was almost too unbearable to handle. He took a shower; freezing, as always, since warm water never reached the dungeons.

Tom considered the goals he had in mind for the day. He had to begin planning the horrendous Halloween Feast he had been assigned to, wheedle Rhion Malfoy into giving him potions supplies, finish reading the book on Legilimency that Professor Tunistra had loaned him, and perform the advanced memory charm on Gregory Longbottom that he had forgotten to do the previous night. That was on top of regular homework, studying for the N.E.W.Ts, and Quidditch. But regular schoolwork had long since become boring and copious to Tom. After all, he easily ranked number one in every subject in the entire school, his teachers all gave him advanced work to do, and, though they did not realize it, he breezed through that as well.

Perhaps it had been boredom that had driven Tom to begin studying the only kind of magic that he did not know. Perhaps it had been something else. Dark magic was easily the most complicated form of magic, and Tom found himself fascinated by it. He had attracted a group of followers, in a way, and they had begun having weekly meetings to study forbidden magic and learn from him.

He made his way up to the Great Hall to take some breakfast and took his usual place at the Slytherin table. Many of his housemates nodded to him as he passed by. 'Friendship' was not a word he would use to describe his relationship with any of them. Most just respected him – in a fearful sort of way. Besides, Slytherins did not make friends. They made political alliances.

As Tom was talking quietly with Rhion Malfoy, he felt a probing gaze upon his back, and knew immediately who it belonged to. Ever since he had gotten little Rubeus Hagrid expelled in his fifth year, Dumbledore had been keeping a close watch on him. Albus Dumbledore was the only person at Hogwarts that seemed to see right through Tom's convincing facade. To the other professors, Tom was an earnest teenager, an ambitious young man, and an outstanding pupil. Only Dumbledore seemed to realize that he was something far, far more dangerous.

As Tom made his way to his first class, he felt a different pair of eyes on him, though he did not know whose they were. He spun around, certain that someone was right behind him. He saw a flash of brown disappear around a corner, but did not bother following it. However, it did make him wonder which one of Hogwart's students had the nerve to follow him around. Had he remembered his dream from the night before, he might have been able to put the pieces together.

Hermione ducked down a corridor as Tom whirled around, drawing in a silent breath of caution. She decided that following him definitely was not going to work for much longer. He has eyes on the back of his head, damn him!

Hermione had barely recognized Tom when she had first seen him. Now, at the age of seventeen, Tom had thick, dark hair that contrasted beautifully with his pale skin. He was tall and lean, and walked with a dangerous grace that reminded her intensely of Draco Malfoy. He had strong, high cheekbones and a firmly set jaw, but his eyes were by far his most intense characteristic. Hermione could think of no other color to describe them but liquid midnight, with subtle flecks of dark blue. Had he not mercilessly murdered one of her best friends only hours before she had seen him, Hermione would have found him hauntingly attractive. The only way she had even suspected that he was the same person as Lord Voldemort was by his abnormally long, thin fingers. Even then, she had had to hear someone call out his name before she had convinced herself.

Unfortunately, Hermione had warped herself back to the first day of term at Hogwarts. She had meant to go back even further, but had missed her mark by a few years. She approximated that she had arrived in 1944, though she could not be sure. She had woken up sprawled out in the clearing in the Forbidden Forest. The same clearing she had been in when Voldemort had killed Harry. She did not know what the effects would be of warping so far back in time, only that Dumbledore had told her never, under any circumstances, to do it. She had decided to walk up to the school and see if she could find Voldemort - Tom! she kept reminding herself - and follow him around. Now that she had successfully warped herself fifty years into the past, she had no notion of what to do, only that she had to somehow kill Tom Riddle. Though Hermione remembered using the Time Turner to warp herself back, she did not recall how she had specifically arrived, and decided that she must have blacked out.

Now, Hermione needed some place to think, since she had no further plan. She was absolutely blown away by the fact that she was in a time more than thirty years before she would be born. It both amazed her and terrified her. Here, nothing was certain.

She decided to walk up to the Astronomy Tower, since everyone was presently in class. As far as Hermione knew, no one had seen her yet. She had been manipulating time long enough to understand that as long as she went unnoticed, nothing in the pattern of time would change. Once she was seen, however, she had the tools and the capability to change past and present events. Dumbledore had also told her that she saw never to be seen. One moment, one glitch in time, Miss Granger, is all that it takes to change a man's future, and perhaps the future of the entire world.

She reached the Astronomy Tower, and glanced out of the large bay window on the north side of the tower. Far below, she saw a large, hairy boy of about fifteen tramping across the grounds. She was reminded immediately of . . . Hagrid! She grinned at finally seeing a familiar face.

Hermione sat down and held her head in her hands. She knew what it was that she had to do, only had no idea of how to go about doing it. She had to murder Tom Riddle, to put it shortly. No, she thoughtangrily, I have to murder the evil, vile creature that will kill my best friends if I don't kill him first. That made it sound easier.

Truth be told, Hermione was terrified. She had already meddled with time once before, and she and Harry had barely escaped. This time, I don't even have Harry, she thought desolately. She was terrified by the fact that in the future, Harry, Ron, her parents, and possibly everyone she had loved was dead. She was equally terrified by the fact that their lives, along with the lives of countless others, now rested in her hands.

Being the logical girl that she was, Hermione decided that there were two ways to fulfill her task. The first was to stay hidden in the shadows, watching him and waiting for the perfect time to strike. As it was, though, he had already proved almost impossible to follow, and Hermione did not know how long it would take to get him alone and vulnerable. If that time was more than a few days from now, she did not know where she would get food or sleep, and she was not sure if she could stay hidden. The second option involved something she had always done when she had had problems. Go to Dumbledore. Tell him everything that had happened, or rather, everything that would happen, and hope that he believed her. Perhaps he would even be able to assist her in killing Tom Riddle. Dumbledore had always known exactly what to do in times of crisis.

Standing up, Hermione decided that going to Dumbledore was definitely the better option. She paused, though, as she found a bit of glitch in her plan. Time was an odd thing, and had a way of coming around full circle. Why hadn't the Dumbledore of the future known Hermione, if she had indeed gone back in time? With a start, she remembered something that he had once told her in private.

You remind me very much of someone I once knew, Miss Granger.

Was it just a coincidence, or had Dumbledore from the future really seen her before?

Making up her mind, she took her wand out of her pocket. Drawing a deep breath, Hermione prepared herself to do something she had promised herself that she would never do. This is different. This is important.

"Rectus Capillus," she whispered, feeling the hair rearrange on her scalp. Next she said, "Occulus Apparo," and a pair of thin glasses appeared in her palm. She put them on, and turned to the window. She yelped and leapt back in surprise. Is that . . . me?

Straight locks of honey brown had replaced her slightly bushy, curly hair and the pair of glasses that she wore made her eyes look sharper. She looked more put together, and, if it was possible, a little bit older. That, and she could barely recognize herself. She looked like a completely different person. She grimaced. I hate this. I feel like Parvati and Lavender before the Yule Ball.

Feeling awkward, she set off for Dumbledore's office determinedly. When she reached the stone statue of the gargoyle, she nervously flattened her hair and straightened her glasses. Did she look different enough?

"Chocolate Frog," she said hopefully, before remembering that Dumbledore liked Muggle candy.

"Erm . . . Mars Bar! No, Lemon Drop!"

"I'm quite fond of those, if I do say so myself," a voice from behind said clearly. Hermione whirled around to face a young, auburn-haired Albus Dumbledore. "Headmaster Dippet refuses to try them, though. I don't know how many times I've offered him one," Dumbledore continued, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

Headmaster? How could she have forgotten? Dumbledore had not become Headmaster until after his defeat of Grindelwald.

"May I ask your name, young lady? And, if it isn't too rude, what brings you here?"

"I'm Helen Nestowe, Sir," Hermione invented quickly, straightening her shoulders like she always did when talking to authority. Suddenly the pit of her stomach dropped, and telling Dumbledore about her mission seemed like a terrible idea. He was more likely to think her insane than to believe a rambling story that included a Dark Lord and a time turner. And consent to murdering one of his own students? Dumbledore would never, under any circumstances, agree to that. Quickly, she tried to think of some half-believable reason for being there.

"I want to enrol in Hogwarts, actually," she finished quickly. Enrol in Hogwarts? Couldn't I think of anything better?

"Is that so, Miss . . . Nestowe?" Dumbledore asked, apparently to look at her for the first time. Hermione did not miss the calculating look in his eyes at all. "I'm not sure that is possible, being as old as you are. Tell me, how did you find your way here? Do you have any magical background?"

Hermione paused. How could she explain the six years of magical training she had already had? How could she explain how she had arrived there at all? Her mind began working frantically.

Fortunately, she was spared answering immediately by a new arrival. She almost gasped as a boy walked around the corner. The one person she had been trying to evade, and the one person she was also trying to kill. Tom Riddle.

((A.N. Will Hermione be able to kill Tom Riddle and get back to the future? How will they react when they meet each other? Tell me what you think with a review.))