Disclaimer: Its all Rowling, baby.

Note from author: I know it's been a while, I apologise. Everything is beginning to come together, I am being extra thorough to make sure I don't write myself into a corner, and also make sure all of my peices are fitting.

Summary: A black gloved hand covered Hermione's mouth, and the intruder - who seemed to posess strength beyond that of his size - picked her up, towel and all and seated her apon the small bathroom sink.

This Day in Age

Chap 8: What Dreams May Come

Darkness.

There was darkness all around her. The rushing wind echoed hollow and eerie off stone walls that Hermione couldn't see. Fear was the most tangible thing in the cave with her, it was raw and pulsated off her in waves. Moving forward, she made out a pinprick of green light ahead of her. The light became bigger and bigger the closer she got. Almost there, her legs protested every step of the way and inched forward at almost a snail's pace until the light from above formed a perfect circle of bright green on the cave's floor. Only two thoughts repeated themselves over and over in her mind;

'Be quiet. Not alone. Be quiet. Not alone.'

Searching the darkness, she saw nothing. Hermione struggled to keep her footsteps silent despite the uneven, rocky surface beneath her feet. She could not risk being heard.

"But, they've already heard you."

It was Tom, in the center of the circle, bathed in the green light. Hermione's previous terror was instantly replaced by an instant flood of affection for him that she did not understand, and then to incredible sadness. Tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. The circle was his prison, she realized. He could not leave the light.

His eyes softened when she came into his view, beautiful and warm and brown.

"'Mione, you should not be here." He said, smooth and clear, hitched with concern and affection.

"I'm sorry!" She wiped her wet eyes. "I never wanted any of this for you."

"Sshh, 'Mione. It hasn't happened yet, there's still time."

She nodded, then took a deep breath. Hermione wanted more than anything to reach into the light and hold his hand, hold him, but something told her that it would be a grave mistake.

"Was it very hard? With Him?" She said finally.

"No." He sighed.

"You're lying, and I'm sorry for that. I didn't know, and by the time I did -" Fresh tears flowed freely from Hermione's eyes.

"Please, don't cry anymore." He said gently. "There is a way to stop it, there is - but you must be strong and resist him. Don't let yourself belong to him. If you become his, 'Moine," His tone was dark and serious. "Then all this will be for naught."

Her tears ceased and she looked at him steadily. "Is there any way at all to save you?"

He was silent for a while. "Do you remember what she said, 'Mione?

'Seek Him on the Day of Ages

Follow the Moon to where the World Ends

Find the Ocean in which no Fish will dwell

Then you must battle the Whipping Winds

until you reach a Great Darkness

Where One Life will be traded for Another."

"Where one life will be traded for another." He repeated. "It was always meant to be me."

"I came all this way to find you, only to lose you now?" The tears were threatening to return again.

He smiled at her. He truly as beautiful. "But you came. That's enough for me."

Hermione's eyes snapped open.

There it was again. It was harder to dismiss now, as it happened more and more frequently. At first Hermione attributed it to her interaction with Riddle, which was becoming more unpleasant as of late, but her Tom was so different than the real thing. Currently, Hermione preferred the former rather than the latter.

But there was no denying the dreams. She'd had them since she arrived. The dreams themselves were confusing. It was like she was on the outside looking in. She knew her thoughts and feelings, but only to an extent. She could see herself, see Tom, but what exactly was going on, she had no idea. It was like being on the outside of an inside joke. The Hermione in her dreams seemed to know what was happening, but she herself was still in the dark, so to speak.

'Seek Him on the Day of Ages.' That seemed very familiar to her, but it was fuzzy and she knew better than to push.

Hermione rose out of bed. She had fallen asleep reading again. There were books piled on her bed and she was still wearing yesterday's clothes. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she decided to head into the shower. It was 3 am, Tom would undoubtedly still be sleeping, being Saturday he didn't have classes, so she didn't expect him to rise for a few more hours yet. There was no need to rush.

Grabbing her things, (clean robes, a towel and toiletries) she headed out her portrait and crossed the common room to the bathroom she and Riddle shared. Hermione closed the bathroom door and turned on the water. Steam had already begun to fog the mirror when she disrobed and stepped into the spray. Tense muscles relaxed under the hot water. She bent her head entirely under and felt relief spread through her sore, strained eyes and scolded herself silently for reading at night. Despite her body's protests, after rinsing the suds out of her hair and off her body, she turned the taps and reached out from behind the curtain for her towel. Upon draping the cloth around herself she pulled back the curtain. Panic struck her when she saw the black hooded intruder looming over the shower. Hermione took a deep breath and...

If anyone had indeed been in the owlry at three in the morning, they would have been both surprised and annoyed that at that very moment, every single owl had taken it apon themselves to make a sudden, collective, and hasty exit, insulted by such a very unpleasant and rude awakening in so early an hour.

A black gloved hand covered Hermione's mouth, and the intruder - who seemed to posess strength beyond that of his size - picked her up, towel and all and seated her apon the small bathroom sink.

"You WILL be quiet!" He hissed. She nodded, wide-eyed. He released his hand from her mouth.

"You-You're in for it n-now!" Hermione gasped. "My r-roommate will have heard me scream, and he gets very c-cranky if he doesn't get his beauty sleep. H-he'll hex you to o-oblivion for waking him up."

"Will he now, Miss Granger?" Her attacker lowered his hood. It was Tom. Hermione's hand flew to her mouth as it dropped in shock. Not because Riddle had been her attacker, but because his pale, angular, and handsome face was covered in red scratches that formed crude letters and spelled the word; T H E I F.

Hermione had forgotten about all the lovely protection spells she had cast on her card, thinking he would rather steal it from her than to give in to her demand of sharing half the common room with her. She had to admit though, she had put a great many more jinxes on that card, and for him to anticipate and disable all but one was extremely impressive.

Tom pushed Hermione's wand roughly into her hand. "You WILL fix this, now." He ordered, positively seething.

Later, she would attribute her compliance to the lingering affection she had felt for her Dream Tom. Hermione muttered the countercurse without protest, and the deep, red scratches slowly dissipated and Tom's face regained its smooth, alabaster beauty. At least it would have save his eyes, bloodshot red from lack of sleep and the light shadow of stubble on his chin.

"What is it in the restricted section you want so badly that you feel you must sneak into the library at all hours of the night to get it?" Hermione asked, still very aware of her state of undress. Tom opened his mouth to retaliate but Hermione stopped him. "Oh forget it, if you wanted me to know, you would just asked me to check it out for you rather than go to all this trouble to get my card for yourself. Which you really needn't have bothered. You've earned the right to be here, whereas I'm not even an official student. This space is yours by right, and the only reason I asked you to share it was because I didn't think you'd actually do it. I didn't want to let you use my card because you're a bully and I don't like being coerced or intimidated into doing things. So, give me back my card, you move your things back and lets call it a day, shall we?"

Tom contemplated this for a few seconds. His hands like a visegrip on her arms, keeping her behind planted firmly on the bathroom sink. Then he reached into his pocket and produced her library card, smirking as he tucked it into the fold of her towel. And then, drawing his wand from his robes and pointing it out of the wide open bathroom door, (with a flourish, of course) he silently conjured all of his things in the common room to their rightful place. There were sounds of rushing wind, fluttering parchment and the clink of inkpots. The sheer force of it doused the fire in the fireplace. It really was a sight to see. That done, his eyes returned to Hermione, his features softened into a mischievous smirk as he attempted half-heartedly to peek behind her towel by lifting the fold with his wand.

This earned him a firm slap on the hand. He retreated, and helped her off the sink as if he were doing her a favor, as if he didn't just barge in the bathroom with her half-naked. Hermione (who tried to salvage what what was left of her dignity) stiffened and turned towards the door, careful to whip her head around quickly and purposefully assault Riddle with a faceful of wet hair.

THWAP!

Tom wiped his face as Hermione stalked haughtily towards her portrait hole. She didn't see his features contorting, straining to keep his anger in check.

"I think perhaps, Miss Granger," He said with her back to him. "That our relationship has had a, shall I say...rocky start?"

"And you mean to put it right by peeping in at me in the shower and barking orders while manhandling me?"

"It just seems such a shame, two obviously brilliant minds like ours and we cannot co-exist peacefully...work together."

Hermione turned, her eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms over her chest.

"You want something."

"I simply think that two like-minded individuals butting heads as we are is a terrible loss."

"Drop the act, Riddle. You want something, out with it."

Tom smiled. But the smile that charmed so many others had no effect on Hermione. She saw straight through. She saw through the veil of feigned sincerity in his eyes, straight through to the coldness within.

"I've been working on a theorem for a potion as of late, but have come to a point where no known magical ingredient will accomplish my goal without unwanted reactions with the others. I plan to discover a new ingredient that will. I have an idea of where to start, but the aquisition proves...tricky for myself alone to retrieve."

"And what exactly is this theorem?"

"A surprise."

Hermione rolled her eyes in annoyance. He wanted her help and yet he was giving her vague answers? Despite her misgivings, she would be lying if she'd said that her curiosity had not been piqued. Obviously he wanted something that was not easily aquired, he did not strike Hermione as someone who frequently asked for help. It probably entailed the breaking of school rules or he would not have asked Hogwarts' only non-student and resident whacko, lest he risk his position as Head Boy.

"And how do I fit in all this?"

Tom smiled, a real smile this time.

"I'm glad you asked." He pulled a small black velvet pouch from his pocket, then unfastened the golden drawstrings and tipped the bag upside down. Something small and clear in color tumbled from the pouch and into Tom's open palm. He made an effort to quickly close his hand into a fist, as if he didn't want her to see, but Hermione had found that she posessed a talent for seeing things that others would normally miss. She noticed that the object, most likely a stone, had changed color when it made direct contact with his skin. It was no longer clear and shiny, but black and dull. No light reflected off its surface, it was as if the small object absorbed all light around it.

"Hold out your hand." He said with such a demanding and authoritative manner, Hermione was immediatly reminded of his earlier behavior towards her and had half a mind to tell him exactly where he could stuff that pouch, but again...curiosity got the better of her, and she held out her hand. When he dropped the stone into her hand she found it was smooth and cool to the touch. When he removed his hand, however, Hermione saw that black almost void-like color it had taken when in Riddle's hand was filtering away, like water down a drain, but instead of returning to its original colorless state, it shone in a brilliant white light, until it was too bright to look at. This result seemed to please Tom.

"Just as I thought," He smirked. "pure as the driven snow."

"What is this?"

"What do you think it is, Miss Granger?"

"Well, at first I thought it was a source of light, perhaps like The Hand of Glory, but it's yours, not mine, and it didn't work for you. Oh!," Hermione gasped in realization. "I know what this is! It's a Stone of Virtue! They say that there was one of these imbedded into the hilt of Excalibur, so only one pure of heart could draw it from the stone. They're very rare..."

"So rare in fact, Miss Granger, that this is the very stone imbedded into Excalibur."

"So...what? You want we should go questing for the Holy Grail?"

"Don't be silly, Miss Granger, no such thing exists. I told you, it's an ingredient I'm looking for, not objects of fictitious legend. You see, a Stone of Virtue does not merely detect the purity of one's soul, but also the measure of one's...physical integrity. The ingredient I seek to retrieve requires a certain amount of chastity, a prerequisite of which I am, I'm afraid, disqualified."

"Let me get this straight," Hermione raised her eyebrow, arms still crossed over her chest. "You want me to help you discover a new magical ingredient -the details of which you will not divulge- for an expirimental potion -of which you will also not divulge- simply because you, being not a virgin may not gather said ingredient, and I, being a virgin, can."

"Exactly, Miss Granger. Now," Tom grasped her gently by the arm, leading her towards the portrait hole. "if we leave now, we can still make it back before -"

"Now?" Hermione gaped, aghast. "I'm not going anywhere now!"

"It's three-thirty, Miss Granger, if we wish to return before the others rise -"

"I'm sorry, Tom," Hermione wrenched her arm from his grip and stalked back to her own portrait. "but I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."

"And just how long shall I 'have to' wait?" Tom's voice regained its authoratative tone.

"UNTIL I GET DRESSED!" Hermione's portrait slammed behind her.

By the time Hermione emerged from behind her portrait (fully clothed and hair freshly combed) she saw that Tom had also taken the time to freshen up. He was now cleanshaven and wearing his thick winter cloak and there was a worn leather satchel draped across one shoulder. She could only wonder what was in it as she draped her own cloak around herself.

"I do hope that this thing you're looking for can be located on school grounds."

"In a manner of speaking. Now, shall we be off?" He held out his arm which she linked with hers and they disapeared through the portrait hole.

Tom led her down the dimly lit corridors with an air as if he owned them. There was no shuffling or sneaking around, no sinking into the shadows, no effort at all to masque their presence. At one point, Hermione nearly jumped at the sight of a boy emerging from another corridor. It was the same tall blond boy who had met her and Mr. Fowles at the doors to the Entrance Hall the night Hermione had arrived. At first, he gave her the same sour-faced look as he had when he'd first seen her, but as soon as his eyes drifted to Tom, however, his expression changed dramatically, as if her standing with this boy had changed the moment he saw her in Tom's company. The boy looked at Tom with a reverance as if he were in the presence of some sort of diety. Hermione swore that he had very nearly bowed.

"Abraxas." Tom nodded to him in acknowlegence.

"Sir," The boy called Abraxas replied. Without another word, he turned and was on his way.

"Wow," Hermione said finally, waiting until they were out of earshot. "It pays to be the Head Boy around here."

"Among other things. Come along."

He led her out onto the Hogwarts grounds, it was bitter cold for mid-November. Hermione's breath formed clouds of vapor and she wished for a moment that she could be Tom simply so she could wear trousers, her legs were freezing. She followed Tom around the Quidditch Pitch and past the Owlery. Hermione wasn't sure by their direction whether they were to head into the forest or toward the lake.

"There was another reason for bringing me, wasn't there?"

"How do you mean, Miss Granger?"

"You were hoping the stone would glow for me weren't you? It made things so much easier, taking me rather than an actual student -"

"I was counting on it, yes, but it had nothing to do with the status as a student, as it did... the pleasure of your company."

"The pleasure of my company? You're joking! We can't last a fortnight without being at each other's throats."

"Exactly my point, you see. You are much more entertaining than one of those vapid, dimwitted girls that are always following me 'round."

"Hang on, its not their fault they act that way. D'you know what they call my room? They call it The Spinster's Bedroom. Thats why the Head Girl's position has been vacant for so many years. Those dimwits - as you call them have brainwashed to believe that the only thing for them in life is to be married and making babies. Merlin forbid that a man catch wind that they have any inkling of intelligence and jeapordize the only option in life they have. So you have no reason to complain because as far as I'm concerned, you're just a victim of your own success."

It had seemed the Hermione had been wrong on both counts. They had not been heading for the forest or the lake but the steep, rocky cliffside that separated the two. This was going to prove quite perilous, indeed. The near vertical drop from the edge to the lake was not inviting, getting closer she noticed that the lake had partailly frozen over.

"Am I?," Tom replied, holding her by the arm and guiding her across the rocky terrain, very nearly lifting her up and carrying her over the more perilous regions. "Before I became Prefect and was recognized as the most intelligent and capable student, I was simply the 'Slytherin Halfblood', unworthy of their attention. Only now, that I am Head Boy, with rumors flying that I am Minister of Magic material, do these girls - whom you've so nobly defended - begin to salivate and circle like vultures. So I ask you, Miss Granger, am I any less a peice of meat?"

Hermione blinked. "I never thou - Ahhh!" She screamed as she lost her footing and nearly her balance when she felt Tom's hand roughly grip her arm, steadying her.

"I think perhaps, Miss Granger, that this is a conversation best finished at a time when plunging to our deaths is no longer a threat looming over our heads."

Hermione nodded in agreement. They carried on.

She couldn't help but feel a certain familiarity with the journey they had been making. The farther along they went the more she began to notice it. The sun had begun to peek its eyes open and a bit of golden light could be seen over the lake toward the horizon. Glancing over the edge, Hermione saw not the glossy sheen of the frozen lake below, but an angry churning sea. The heavy odor of seawater wafted through her nostrils, the rocks beneath her feet had become ebony black, sharp and menacing, and her palms were so itchy. When Tom noticed her rubbing her hands on her outer robes, he raised an eyebrow.

"Guilty conscience?"

His smooth, clear voice snapped Hermione from her reverie. She looked at him questioningly. He smirked amusedly and took her hand in his.

"Out, damned spot." He teased, but his expression fell as he further inspected her palms. Though there was no obvious wound he could see, Hermione's palms were coated in a thin sheen of dried blood.

"Tell me how this happened." It was more of a demand than a request.

"I don't know, my hands simply began to itch." She left out the hallucinations. People already thought she was crazy.

His anger was obvious, but it did not seem to be directed towards her, if anything he seemed almost concerned.

"Come, we must get off the rocks." He lead her onto a hidden path that lead into the forest. She now understood why they had to go around the cliffside, there was no access to the path any other way. When they were few paces in, Tom stopped her.

"Hold out your hands, palms up." He demanded. Hermoine held them up and the blood on her hands dissapeared with a silent flourish of Tom's wand. "Now," He said. "Show me exactly where you rubbed your hands on your robes. They will not come to you if they smell blood."

"Um, mostly along the hem, I think - Hang on - They?" She questioned him. "They won't come to me? Who exactly are they?" Hermione's eyes glared coldly at Tom. Finally, it all registered. "Pleasure of my company my foot! You wanted a virgin so you could hunt Unicorns! You-"

Again, Tom's hand covered Hermione's mouth. "We musn't be heard, Miss Granger. Other creatures inhabit this forest. It would be...unpleasant if our presence was made known to them."

Hermione wrenched his hand from her mouth. Now that she was fully clothed she would not allow herself to be manhandled in such a way. "I don't care who hears us! You are the most incredible git! You drag me across a damned mountain with stories of Excalibur and pure hearts, and the whole time you want to -" Hermione cut herself short and she looked fearfully at the ground, which had begun to tremble violently beneath her feet.

"Tom?"

Everything happened in double speed after that. Tom shoving her off the path and into the brush, the Unicorn charging Tom, with its golden horn aimed directly at his heart, forcing him backwards out of the woods and back onto the rocks. Tom losing his balance at the edge, falling over, his distant cry of "Reducto!" and the sickening splash when he hit the water.

Then Nothing.

"Serpensortia!" Hermione cried, conjuring a snake into the Unicorn's path, causing it to whinny, buck up on its hind legs and trot away. She ran to the ledge and looked down for any sign of Tom. There was none, but thank Merlin that he knew to break the ice before he went under. There was a large hole in the frozen lake where he had presumably fallen in, the water was still rippling with the force of his descent, but there was no sign that he had resurfaced. If Hermione didn't think quickly, Tom could either drown or die of hypothermia. Leave Him. A voice in her mind insisted, from the fuzzy part of her memory that she dare not push. Do the world a favor. No. She would not leave him. Git or not, he could have defended himself with the split-second he used to push her off the path to safety. So, Hermione did the first thing that came to mind. She took a deep breath, and she jumped in after him.

She transfigured a loose boulder into a carpet and placed a Hover charm on it on the way down. She landed on it as it floated, stationary over the hole in the ice. She leaned over the hole and saw nothing but dark black water and her own reflection staring back at her.

Tom knew it was him the Unicorn was after when it charged, just as he knew better than to cast magic against it. His plan at first was to climb down the rocks far enough to where the Unicorn could not follow, then for Hermione to collect the specimen he desired and that would be that. He did not expect to lose his balance, Tom Riddle is nothing if not the embodiment of grace and poise, not to mention the most brilliant wizard ever to grace the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. But one's perspective does change when facing the wrong end of a Unicorn's horn, and then tittering off the ledge of a cliff. He had only seconds to break the ice before he fell. The last thing he remembered thinking before the stabbing pain of the icey cold water hit him, before he began sinking like a rock to the bottom, was that; Why he, who never trusted anyone, never allowed himself to rely on anyone but himself, was wondering exactly how Hermione was going to get him out.

"Levicorpus! Ohhhh! Levicorpus!" Hermione couldn't see anything beneath the murky surface and randomly shot the jinx futilely through the water, hoping to hit Tom and drag him up. She forced herself to quell the panic she felt threatening to rise through her. Tom had been under for nearly a minute, it would do him no good to go to pieces.

"Ooooh, uuumm Accio Tom Riddle!" Bubbles rose up from the bottom and Tom's unconscious form broke through the water's surface and hovered just before her. "Mobilicorpus!" His body laid itself flat and floated over to her, dripping on the carpet. "Not good. Not good. Not breathing. Uuumm, Oh, Rictusempra!" The Tickling Curse, it immediatley caused Tom to sputter and cough up water, Hermione applied the countercurse and he began to gasp in large gulps of air.

"Tom! It's Hermione, can you hear me? We need to get you out of those wet things. We need to get you -"

Tom took hold of her arm, still gasping for air and shivering violently. "No...Cushing..."

"Yoo could catch pnemonia, Tom, or worse, hypothermia -"

"NO!" He was still trembling all over, though Hermione noticed that even now, he tried, however unsuccessfully, to cease the involentary tremoring. Inches from death, Tom Riddle still needed to be in control. His grip on her arm tightnened, his eyes burned with authority despite his vulnerable state.

"You...will tell...No One...of this."

"Tom, we need to -"

"NO ONE!" He rasped. Then his eyes began to droop, and his grip on her arm loosened. He was unconscious.

Hermione wasted no time ripping off his heavy, sodden robes and threw them into a pile on the opposite side of the carpet. Though prestinely clean and pressed and worn with not a single article out of place, they were grayed and obviously made to fit a slightly shorter frame. She deduced that he probably got them secondhand and that they may be his only set. Otherwise she would have discarded the extra weight from the carpet. Sadly, the satchel that had been slung over his shoulder had been lost to the lake.

She stripped him down to his undershirt and boxers, not brave enough to strip him completely. Thin whisps of steam seemed to seep from the folds of the wet fabric, something Hermione recognized as heat leaving Tom's body that he could not afford to lose. She applied a drying spell to the underclothes she left on as well as his hair and the rest of his body, and wrapped him in her own winter cloak. No warming charm she tried was successful, but this was to be expected. The charm worked through the bloodstream, making its way to the heart, but with a weak pulse, the charm would prove unnaffective. His pale, almost blue skin was still ice-cold even though nestled inside the residual warmth of her cloak.

Light had begun to pour in through the horizon. Even the least dilligent of students would be beginning to rise, not to mention professors. Hermoine had to not only find a way to secret Tom into the castle, she had to do it without being seen.

Then it hit her. Nearly every important entryway in Hogwarts was protected by a password of some kind. Entrances to all dorms were guarded by portraits, but who (especially hundreds of stories up) would bother with the windows? With that, she commanded her carpet to rise up off the ground. She wanted to get to a high enough altitude to not be noticed when they approached the castle. Swallowing her pride, she sheilded Tom with her body to protect him from the wind's biting chill as they sailed at top speed toward large window overlooking the lake in their common room.

As she figured, the window was left wardless. Hermione opened it with no trouble. Rapidly, she levitated Tom's limp, pale frame onto the sofa closest to the fireplace. She stoked the fire to burn furiously until the room was blistering hot, almost tropical. Tom's wet robes fell to the floor with a loud Slap! as Hermione returned the carpet back to a rock, directed it out of the window and allowed it to plunge to the ground below.

Abraxas Malfoy was outside heading for the owlry. He hadn't slept at all that night as today was the day he'd have to owl Father and tell him of his more than abysmal marks in Transfiguration. In his letter he remarked on how Professor Dumbledore was a; 'Twinkly eyed old codger who shamelessly flaunted his favor of the Griffindors.' and that he 'had to work twice as hard for half the marks.' hoping to feed his father's distaste for the deputy headmaster and avoid punishment. It was suffice to say, that he had been jumpy to begin with. When a boulder the size of his head fell from the sky and landed not a foot from where he had been walking, he had felt that maybe Father had already heard the news. He turned around and half ran (because a true Malfoy does not run) back to the castle, looking overhead until he was safely inside.

"Tom Marvolo Riddle, you'd better be extremely accomodating to me after this." Hermione glared at the unconscious boy as she stripped herself down to her underthings and removed his shirt. An intuition told her that skin to skin contact was best to thwart hypothermia. Briefly, she appreciated what she had uncovered, Tom was slender, yes, but lean. There wasn't a ounce of fat on him. She could see the muscles of his biceps wrapping themselves around his arm. No wonder he was able to carry her so easily. Conjuring her large, heavy comforter from her dormitory, she climbed atop him on the sofa and wrapped the blanket around them. His skin was warmer than before, but not yet what it should be, but his breathing had become more even. Hermione lay her head on his chest directly over his heart and heard a much steadier beat. She lay that way for an uncertain amount of time before she realized that he was no longer unconscious, simply sleeping.

She sat up for a moment and watched as the firelight danced and played light and shadows across the sharp, angular shape of his profile. Hermione wondered how such a prefect specimen of masculine beauty could be such a pain in the arse. She reminded herself to ask when he woke up as she returned her head to its previous place on his chest. With her ear to his heart she heard a normal thump-thump, thump-thump, and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Well, Mr. Riddle, it seems that there's a heart in there after all." And whether it was the warmth of the fire, or the distinctively male scent of Tom, Hermione did not know, but she drifted off just the same.

A/N I humbly apologise for the month long wait, everyone. This was a major plot point and I wanted to read, reread and re-reread to make sure I wasn't appearing to be terribly long-winded. I also tried harder to make the chapter a bit longer. Normally, I would have split the bathroom scene and the unicorn scene as two different chapters. But I have gotten many requests in my reviews for longer chapters. I would also like to amend my previous statement that I do not want corrections of my atrocious spelling and grammar. One reviewer did it anyway, but in a completely constructive way and it really was a big help. So, If you notice of my many errors, feel free to kindly correct me. As long as it is constructive, it would be most appreciated. Oh! Question! What id the difference between 'upon' and 'apon'? that's been bugging me! Thanx for all the great reviews everyone! TTFN!