Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters do not belong to me unfortunately.

I've recently gained an overwhelming obssession with Tom Riddle and Hermione stories so, to the disgraceful detriment of my other fan fics, I'm decided to devote a large part of my already severely limited free time to writing one myself. I truly hope that you all enjoy reading this as much as I anticipate enjoying writing this!

Warning: Language.


Prologue

The mist of the Forbidden Forest shifted around them, its eerily damp tendrils enveloping their exhausted bodies like the caress of an unwelcome lover. It was then that he saw her face.

"You…"

Hermione clutched her wand, ignoring the bead of cold perspiration trickling down the side of her neck, stinging as it came into contact with the open wounds lying in wait. So it had finally come down to this. They were the only two left.

Her eyes refused to shift downwards. Refused to look upon the beloved, lifeless bodies scattered around her. Harry. Ron. Lupin. They had protected her with their lives and now, there was only her. Her and the creature who had taken them from her.

I guess this is the end then.

Furiously blinking away the tears that clung to her lashes, she carefully stepped over Ron's mangled arm as it lay stretched out in the dirt. Arms that would never again open wide for affectionate hugs. Arms that would never again hold her while she screamed and sobbed relentlessly after finding the bodies of her parents. Arms whose future now held nothing but the promise of decay.

Hermione's jaw tightened. She would kill Voldemort. Never mind the fact that everyone she loved had failed in this task. She would make him suffer like she was suffering now.

"What are you waiting for, you sick bastard? I'm only a Mudblood, right? Finish it!"

The suffocating silence that greeted her words was broken by a peal of shrill, demented laughter. Staring straight into the face of the one who had finally accomplished his dream of destroying the entire wizarding world, Hermione noted dully that this was, in fact, the first time she had ever seen him face to face. After all these years, she had only heard terse descriptions of the pallid skin, the flat snake-like features and the sadistic red eyes.

Eyes that were focused wildly on hers as they stood facing each other across the barren clearing. Instead of the cruel pleasure she had been expecting however, Hermione watched incredulously as an indescribable mixture of expressions rushed over that distorted face.

Disbelief. Horror. Anger.

And something else. Something that had been so long suppressed yet, at the same time, held on to so desperately, that its reappearance seemed to shock the wearer as much as it did the watcher.

It was…

No!

The refusal to acknowledge even the possibility of its existence thundered inside her mind. Hermione took a determined step forwards, her wand trembling as she raised it to chest-level.

"I don't know what you're playing at but…"

"It's you!"

His voice was raspy, so similar to the hissing noises she had come to associate with Parseltongue. She paused in her advance, the low tones unconsciously triggering some chord deep within her. She gave no answer, choosing instead to see what sort of twisted game he wanted to play.

"I've waited so long. And now it turns out that you're…"

Hermione choked back a whimper when he abruptly kicked the broken body at his feet.

Harry.

"…you're the little Mudblood they all adored!"

Hermione opened her mouth to shout a scathing retort but the words died on her lips when she saw it. A silver brooch twisted in the shape of a serpent. The dying rays of moonlight glimmered off its small emerald eyes, the grime and blood of the battle doing nothing to detract from its cherished position high on Voldemort's cloak.

The sight of it caused Hermione to stumble back.

-

The crackle of logs in the fireplace.

The sweet taste of hot cider.

The feel of a warm, loving embrace.

"Merry Christmas, Tom."

-

A shuddering breath escaped her lips as Hermione pressed her fist against the matted curls on her head. Squeezing her eyes shut, she desperately tried to control the tremors that wracked her body as wave after wave of memories suddenly flooded, unbidden, into her already-agitated mind.

They can't be memories. Those things never happened!

Jerking her head back up, she stared blindly at the towering figure in front of her. Fighting her way through the nausea as a myriad of images tried to insert themselves into her brain, she could dimly make out the hysterical words he was throwing at her.

"I searched for you! Everywhere! You did this to me!"

"No…"

The plea came out as a horrified rush of air. Shaking her head frantically, Hermione didn't know whether she was denying his words or trying to stop herself from registering the scenes unfolding mentally. He saw her motion.

"You did! It was because you left…you left me…"

Slowly, horrifically, the words started to make sense. They entwined themselves with her new memories, making her head spin as her vision blurred. The term 'stupid' had never been one used to describe Hermione Granger. Even though her consciousness struggled against it, it simultaneously forced her to acknowledge their devastating message. Blocking out the accusations was the only way she could continue to ignore the disturbing yet undeniable sound of pain and longing in his voice. The girl scrambled at the neck of her robes and tremblingly drew out a long golden chain. Fixing her eyes on the now grief-stricken face of the one the world claimed to have no emotions, Hermione made up her mind. She had no choice really.

She twisted the Time Turner three complete rotations.

-

-


A/N: This is actually the first fic that I've sat down and jotted out a plan for. Hopefully, this will turn out to be the crowning jewel of my creations so I really look forward to hearing from you. Criticisms and comments are always welcome and much appreciated. BTW, I've recently heard rumors that stories that have review responses will be deleted, so responses to all reviews will be posted on my profile from now on. Thank you!