Disclaimer:I don't even own a bed, never mind the rights to the Potterverse.
Rating: T, for violence, language, and sexual situations.
Summary: In the heat of battle, Hermione is flung back in time. Struggling to adjust, she runs in to the last person she ever wanted to see, the one person she seeks to destroy – the man she will ultimately learn to love. AU after HBP. HG/TR.
Author's Note: Right, so. I abandoned this fic over a year ago because I wrote myself in to a huge, gaping plot hole and I had no idea how to write myself out of it. I still have no idea how to write myself out of it, for that matter. But, I've been in the mood to write lately, so I've decided to give it a shot even though I'm blindly searching in the dark. Besides, this fic is still garnering support and I figure I owe it to everyone to at least finish the blasted thing. Fair warning – it will probably be absolute crap. Listening to Boa's "Obsessed" as I write this. It fits… So, here it goes.
Hermione hadn't the faintest clue what to do. Lost in thought, the bustle of the Great Hall at breakfast went unnoticed by the young woman, her own bowl of oatmeal cooling, untouched before her. It had been nearly two weeks since the incident with Malfoy and Draco's near disappearance and not only had Tom refused to talk to her, but in the rare instances he was forced to, he was downright contemptuous.
Slowly, day by day, Hermione felt her resolve weakening. Perhaps Draco was right. Perhaps Riddle couldn't be saved.
Sighing heavily, Hermione dropped her head in to her folded arms, not caring that her chocolate curls flopped in to the abandoned bowl of oatmeal, coating them in the sticky, white substance.
"Malfoy's gone home," a voice murmured from her side, causing Hermione's head to snap up, shock written across her tired features. Draco, back to the table, leaned on his elbows against the edge, gazing at Hermione with concern in his eyes.
"What? How?" she demanded, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. Although Abraxas had slowly been healing, he'd still been bedridden in the Hospital wing, the matron too afraid to let him move for fear he'd reopen his wounds and reverse the healing process. He had been cursed with very unpredictable dark magic that the mediwitch had never seen before, and therefore her healing regimen was a practice in trial and error.
"His parents removed him last night with the aid of private healers. They refuse to allow him back at Hogwarts. He'll be privately tutored for the remainder of his seventh year," Draco explained, relaying the information he had charmed out of the easily flustered matron of Hogwart's hospital wing.
Hermione was disturbed by this information, yet slightly relieved. At least with Abraxas out of harms way, there would be no further threat to Draco's existence. The two visitors from the future had, after all, had to prevent Riddle from finishing the job more than once in the past two weeks, which irked the future dark lord considerably – especially since he seemed to have no idea who was foiling his plans.
"So… are we happy or sad?" Draco asked tentatively, noticing the conflicting emotions flashing through his friend's eyes. Hermione blinked, seemingly pondering the question.
"Relieved, more like," she answered finally, nodding. After a moment, she frowned. "Did this happen the first time around? Abraxas finishing his schooling at home?" she asked Draco, who would know more about his grandfather's past than she.
"No. He had a picture of himself with a few 'friends' at graduation hanging on the wall of the study at Malfoy manor, so he obviously finished here last time," Draco replied, eyes going glassy as his mind drifted along a sea of memories. Both teens were silent for a while as they contemplated this break from history, wondering what impacts it would have on the future.
"Snap out of it, you two. You're going to be late for class," Lucretia said as she passed by them, slinging her bag over her shoulder as she walked. Hermione shot her a thankful smile.
"Riddle won't be happy at this development," Draco muttered darkly, shooting the boy in question a wary look as he pushed from the table, slinging his own bag over his shoulder. Hermione followed suit, grabbing a muffin for good measure, since she hadn't touched any of her oatmeal. Draco snorted as she moved, her hair flying about and flinging bits of the gruelly food everywhere. Withdrawing his wand, he aimed a cleaning spell at her hair, since it was obvious Hermione either didn't know that her hair was coated in her breakfast, or didn't remember.
"No," Hermione whispered, looking up at the young man in question as he stood from the Slytherin table. He must have sensed that someone was watching him for his head snapped up, catching her eyes. She shuddered at the pure hatred that pulsed from his eyes and looked away. "He won't."
He was not happy.
Understatement of the century. He was livid.
Tom paced his dorm, thankful that as Head Boy he was granted his own, for he desperately required privacy at the moment. He doubted that his classmates would have been thrilled about having their dorm room obliterated, after all.
With a sweep of his wand, the broken and blasted items scattered about the decent sized room slowly began to repair and knit themselves back together. He had destroyed and repaired everything at least a half dozen times since he found out that Malfoy had escaped his clutches and returned to the safety of Malfoy Manor.
Hermione's behind this and you know it. The voice spoke, voice dripping with acidity. Tom clenched his hands, nearly breaking his wand in two in the process. He set it on the bedside table before he could do actual damage and sat heavily on the edge of his bed.
"I don't know that," he muttered out loud. The inner voice scoffed, making him scowl.
She's been protecting Malfoy ever since she found him after you left the traitor for dead, and you know it.
Riddle grunted in response, flopping back on to the mattress and staring blankly at the ceiling. Despite his behavior toward the infuriating Ravenclaw, he thought about her constantly. Memories of what they had – what they almost had – haunted him daily.
Despite the fact that he knew, with utmost certainty, that she could – would – ruin everything, Tom missed her.
But she would never understand and accept him as he was now – how he had to be in order to keep control over his subordinates. Without that control, someone else might make a move for power, like Abraxas had.
Tom shook his head and let out a weary sigh.
He wanted Hermione but he wanted power too, and he knew he could never have both.
As if the object of his thoughts knew that his mind dwelled on her, a school owl flew through the open window, dropping a familiar shade of parchment on his stomach. Tom sat up and picked up the missive, staring at it warily.
Finally, with some reservation and a small hint of trepidation, Tom unrolled the scroll.
What in Merlin's name is your problem? What the hell has been in your head these past two weeks? What happened to you? I want the old Tom back. The Tom that I came to know, respect, and daresay, almost bloody LOVE.
Get your bloody act together, man! You're better than this bitter, vengeful, power-crazed thing you seem to have become. I'm sick of it!
You're better than this. I know you are. I've seen it. You have a great capacity for love. I know it's in there somewhere, it's just hiding. Let it come out. Please, Tom.
Come back to me.
Halloween came and went and Hermione hadn't heard back from Tom. She saw him around the castle and in classes, but he ignored her, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. He couldn't even bring himself to meet her gaze, making Hermione wonder what was going on in that head of his.
Had her letter gotten through to him at all? Was this why he was suddenly quiet, and pensieve. From both her and Draco's observations, he didn't even talk to his 'friends' anymore. It was like he was on autopilot, moving from day to day with a monotony that startled everyone. Ever the professors seemed to notice Tom's change in behavior. She had seen more than one approach him cautiously and inquire in to his wellbeing. Tom would merely sneer and insist he was fine and ask to be left alone. After three weeks of this behavior, everyone had seemed to give up on him.
Finally, one day in late November, Tom appeared to snap out of whatever funk he was in. Back to his old, charming, slightly smarmy self. Once again, his followers shadowed behind him like lost puppies and the professors fawned and praised.
Hermione, for her part, was exhausted. She didn't sleep at night, instead tossing and turning, her mind a whirl of thoughts and ideas and plans and everything else in-between. She fretted over what to do about Tom. She worried about the future and the ramifications of her meddling in the past. She wondered about the friends she had left behind – left for dead. She worried for Draco, who closed himself off more and more as the days separated him farther and farther from Angelique.
When it all came down to it, Hermione felt more alone than she ever had in her entire life.
"You look horrible, lass," Cormac declared one day at the beginning of December as Hermione fell heavily on to a bar stool at the Three Broomsticks. Hermione shot him a withering glare before dropping her head to her hands and yawning widely. Cormac eyed her with concern. "Did that Riddle boy do something to ye?" he muttered angrily, slapping the rag he'd been cleaning with down on the bar and eying the patrons of his establishment, searching out the boy in question.
Sighing heavily, Hermione shook her head.
"I got myself in to this mess, Cormac," she replied softly, swiping at tears that pooled in her eyes with a shaking hand. "I guess I'm just going to have to get myself out of it," she finished on a sad note, her eyes a million miles away as she stared at the wall behind the elderly man.
"Well, the bloke was never good enough for my Hermione anyway," Cormac said, his voice gruff with irritation. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Cormac, please," she pleaded, sighing wearily. "Can we just drop the subject?"
"Aye, lass," Cormac agreed, nodding. He watched the young woman as her shoulders dropped, her eyes once again swimming with tears, and felt instant alarm. Circling the bar, he hurried over and quickly drew the girl in to his arms. Within seconds, Hermione was quietly sobbing, her tears soaking his white shirt.
"I don't know what to do anymore!" she wailed, her words muffled by Cormac's wiry frame. Her body shook with the force of her cries. "I just… I just want to go home!"
"I just… I just want to go home!" The words rang in Tom's ears as he stood stock still in the middle of the pub, eyes glued to the one woman he had sworn to forget. Yaxely and McNair stood behind him, waiting for their leader to make the first move. Worry tinged their eyes and they glanced at one another, both shrugging in confusion.
A gnawing sensation tore at his stomach, making Tom wince.
This is what we wanted. If she hates you, she'll finally leave you alone.
Tom shook the thought from his head, hands shaking with the force of the tidal wave of emotion that suddenly spilled over him.
"She was ready to give you everything, you know," a voice murmured from some place nearby. Tom whipped his head around, eyes coming to settle on the brunette Slytherin that was quickly turning in to the bane of his existence. Draco, for his part, merely gazed blankly back at the future dark lord, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against a support beam.
Tom blinked slowly, taking the other man's words in.
"Want us to get rid of him?" Yaxely murmured from behind Tom.
"Leave me," Tom replied instead, the commanding tone in his voice wavering slightly as he kept his eyes glued on Draco. Yaxely blinked in surprise, but when Riddle suddenly shot him a withering glare, he complied, grabbing McNair's arm and pulling him out of the Three Broomsticks.
"Personally, I don't think you deserve her," Draco continued once Tom's lackeys were gone.
Tom quirked an eyebrow as he took a step closer to the other Slytherin.
"What makes you think I even want her?" he finally shot back, regaining a bit of his composure as he tried to block out the sound of Hermione crying nearby. Draco raised his eyebrow, mirroring Tom's expression.
"Oh, I don't think," he waved off airily, his gaze landing on Hermione for a brief moment before returning to Riddle. "I know you want her." He pushed off the beam and took a step toward the other boy. "The problem is, with the way you've been acting for the past couple of months, you definitely aren't going to get her."
"Which relieves you greatly, I'm sure," Tom drawled sarcastically, peering at the woman in question out of the corner of his eye just in time to see the old barman lead her in to a back room, rubbing soothing circles on her back.
"On the contrary," Draco replied, shocking Riddle in to stunned silence. Smirking, Draco slowly circled the Slytherin prince, eying him from head to toe, making the other boy feel exposed in more ways than one. "For some reason beyond my comprehension, Hermione saw something in you," he finally murmured, a hint of disgust in his voice. "Something worth having… worth saving."
"I refuse to be a pity case," Tom bit out through clenched teeth at this.
"Oh trust me. The last thing Hermione feels for you is pity," Draco scoffed, rolling his eyes.
"Then why, pray tell, does she feel the need to save me," came the acerbic, drawling reply. Draco merely shrugged in response.
"Because you need to be saved, whether you like it or not," he said matter-of-factly. Tom blinked, unsure of how to reply to something like that. Draco leaned in close, his voice a mere whisper when he finally spoke. "Let her save you, Tom."
Before Riddle could even register the soft-spoken words, Draco was gone, the door swinging closed behind his retreating back.
"Tom?" a soft, hesitant voice called from behind him. Tom spun on his heels, startled for the second time that day. Hermione stood there, wringing her hands and gazing at him almost shyly.
"Buchanan," he muttered, tilting his head in acknowledgement, his own gaze cold, with an underlying hesitancy. Shoulders stiff, mind reeling with everything Valois had just said to him, Tom couldn't seem to focus on the distraught woman standing before him. Noticing this, Hermione frowned, eyes pooling with tears again.
"Never mind," she muttered dejectedly, pushing past him and hurrying out of the pub. Tom watched her go with conflicting emotions. He stood there, ignoring the curious gazes of the other patrons, trying to get control of himself, and it was a long while before he finally moved, the trip to Hogsmeade forgotten as he hurried back to the castle on the hill.
"I give up," Hermione declared later that night, sitting in the chintz chair before Dumbledore's desk, eyes averted. "I can't save that bloody fool, nor do I want to anymore," she added with a tone of finality.
"I see," Dumbledore replied softly, gazing serenely at the young woman over the top of his glasses. Hermione looked up at caught his eyes, feeling somewhat guilty at the slight reproach she saw in his azure gaze.
"I want to go home," she announced, squirming in her seat and looking away again. "Have you found a way to get me back to my own time?"
"Indeed, I have," Dumbledore murmured, nodding his head once. Hermione instantly straightened, a look of relief and excitement flooding her features.
"Tell me! I'll do whatever it takes!" she exclaimed, nearly bouncing in her seat. Dumbledore studied her for a long moment, steepling his fingers and tapping his chin thoughtfully. After what seemed like an eternity, he smiled at the young time-traveler.
AN: Yay for cliffhangers. So, I admit the chapter isn't as long as its predecessors, but I thought that was a fitting ending, so I left it there. Hope it wasn't too crappy. Lemme know what you think.