A/N: I know I promised this for Christmas, but Happy New Year's Eve (or Happy New Year if you live in Australia ;)).
Fifteen years later.
The early sunlight shone down onto the cobblestone road, marking the beginning of a new day. A couple of storekeepers hurriedly opened the doors to the stores they worked in, waiting for their first customers to show up, while others lethargically moved about, sighing and muttering half-hearted complaints about how early it was.
Though the rest of the world was at war, Diagon Alley remained unchanged—or at least, the amount of shoppers remained unchanged.
One noticeable change, however, was the decrease in numbers of so-called psychics and fortune-tellers roaming the streets or setting up stands. What had been in fashion in 1945 no longer caused the hype that it did in the past. Of course, there were still those who believed in this wooly branch of magic, including the Dark Lord himself. But of course, that was one of the many secrets he wanted to remain unknown to the general public, so despite his strong belief in Divinations, he hadn't been exactly keen on maintaining the popularity of it.
"Are you sure this is going to work?"
The question came from one of the two hooded figures standing a small distance into Knockturn Alley. Passersby didn't bother sparing them a second glance, since it was normal for folks roving Knockturn Alley to dress up the way these two people were.
"Abraxas told me she's going to be here today. If he gave me false information … well, he'd better hide as far as he can away from me," the second hooded figure answered.
The first person—Ginny Weasley—cocked her head to one side. "I thought he was in the Netherlands."
The second person—Hermione Granger—snorted. "Him? Risking his head again? I was surprised when Tom told me he'd joined in the battle at Sweden."
"Well, I doubt he could talk himself out of that. There were nobody left in his family to 'die.'"
"How did he talk himself out of this one then?" Hermione said, furrowing her eyebrows.
"He said he still had injuries from the battle at Sweden," Ginny answered nonchalantly. "Not surprising, since he did get his arse kicked around a lot there and then."
The two of them fell silent for a while. A group of children was ushered to quicken their footsteps by a guardian when she noticed two figures standing near the entrance to Knockturn Alley, as if she were afraid that these two beings would suddenly attack them. Then, Ginny spoke up again.
"I know you're still not completely happy about it, and perhaps it's a bit selfish of me, but I'm still glad that you came back to life, Hermione."
Hermione did not immediately answer. She didn't know how to answer anymore, to be exact. She wished that she hadn't thrown that tantrum back when she first opened her eyes and saw them. If she had known that Harry and Ginny were going to be so Merlin-damned apologetic every single time they talked to her, she sure as hell would've just greeted them with a smile that would've made Gilderoy Lockhart proud.
Yes, she was beyond furious and upset when they'd brought her back to life, and yes, she seriously wished they hadn't done so. Nevertheless, she knew that what was done was done, and nothing could be done to reverse what had happened. Besides, it was Harry, and she couldn't stay mad at him for long anyway. She just wished that they would dropped the topic already.
"Ginny, can we please let this be the last time I'm saying this? Because I truly love you and Harry, but these apologies are …" She shook her head, not completely sure how to describe them. "I really, really, really don't blame you, or Harry, or Draco for this any longer, so can we just end it with that?"
"Ginny, I've told you many times already. The three of you were presented with the chance to bring a friend back to life. Any person would've attempted it, even if they'd known that the person might not want to come back to life. You lot had no idea what I was thinking, so really, I don't blame the three of you anymore."
A smile finally appeared on Ginny's face. "Not Riddle then?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm pretty sure that if he had been able to open that box, he would've kept that Coin, just in case he needed it one day. We all know that if he had to choose between my life or his own skin, he'd choose the latter any day."
"Well, I'm not so sure about that. Attacking Hogwarts and taking down Dumbledore does seem to be quite a risky endeavor, wouldn't you think?" asked Ginny as she looked towards the growing number of people strolling down Diagon Alley.
"You've been reading too many romance novels, Ginny. He knows how well Harry duels, and he saw how his spells increased in strength when he casts simultaneously with Harry. Though there was a risk there, at the end of the day, he was doing it for himself," Hermione replied.
Ginny frowned upon hearing her words and seemed as if she were trying to come up with a rebuttal of some sort. Hermione had a hunch that the redhead was saying these things to make her feel better, but she would rather her friends to stop attempting to plant those ideas into her mind.
"Ginny, look, I know you mean well, but I know what kind of man I've chosen. I've known since day one all the psychological and emotional problems that he has, and I've still chosen to be with him. I'm not about to be distressed over something like this," she said.
"But—" Ginny stopped in her words, seemingly unable to finish what she wanted to say.
Taking a deep sigh, Hermione didn't take her eyes off the busy streets and said, "There's no such thing as a perfect relationship, Ginny. Well, arguably, your relationship with Harry is probably the closest thing to it. I like being with Tom—when he's not that moody, murderous, selfish prick, that is—and to some extent, I do love him, but I'm not aiming to change him. It's impossible to change someone unless they want to be changed, and Tom doesn't think he needs changing because he doesn't see anything wrong with himself. If anything, he thinks that we are the ones who need changing.
"Is it hard to be with him? To some extent, yes, because his morals, or lack thereof, can be frustrating to me. But that's true with nearly every relationship in the world, and I might as well stay single if I believe that there's someone out there who's 'perfect' for me. And … I have to admit that as infuriating as the arguments are, it can be exhilarating, especially when I'm the one who comes out victorious." A small smirk appeared on her lips as she remembered those sweet moments of triumph. Casting a sly look at Ginny, she continued to say, "And if I'd wanted someone who's selfless to the point of saint-like, I would've jumped Harry all those years ago."
A snort left Ginny's lips. "Oye! Hands off my man."
Hermione held her hands up in mock defeat. "Never had them on him in the first place."
Soft chuckles were shared between them before Ginny recomposed herself, but before she could talk, the familiar figure of a woman with her face shrouded with a shawl appeared no more than ten feet away from where they were standing. Immediately, alertness appeared on the two witches' faces as they tracked the woman's footsteps.
"How are we going to approach her?" Ginny asked, a frown appearing on her face.
"She's probably stocking up on her supply of sherry again," Hermione replied, half amused and half sarcastically, "so we can probably 'ambush' her there."
"Oh, I don't know, Hermione. Perhaps she saw us coming with her 'inner eye' and would find some way to foil our brilliant plan," Ginny said airily.
"We shall see how accurate her 'inner eye' is then," Hermione replied with a wink.
With that said, the two of them fell silent and headed towards where they saw the "soothsayer" heading.
Indeed, the woman they were tracking down was none other than the "famous" Seer, Sybill Trelawney. The two of them had been planning this day for years, knowing from the start that it was far too dangerous for all of them if the prophecy was ever made. At first, Hermione had been hesitant about enrolling Ginny's help, worried that it might somehow trigger the Unbreakable Vow the redhead had made to Tom. However, Ginny pointed out that in doing this, they were actually preventing Tom's death, since the prophecy eventually led to his demise. Therefore, she would actually be working in accordance to what she had sworn—not allowing harm to be done to him when it was in her power to stop it.
Trelawney walked through the streets without so much as casting a second glance at people whom she passed by. It felt somewhat out of place for Hermione to see her former—or perhaps it should be "future"—Divinations professor somewhere that was not Hogwarts, especially walking down the streets of Diagon Alley. Not much had changed in regards to Trelawney's physical appearances—in Hermione's opinion, she still looked very much like a glittering beetle, though perhaps a younger one.
It didn't take too long for Trelawney to reach her destination. In any other circumstances, Hermione surely would've missed it. The store itself was so battered that she was surprised that its roof hadn't crashed down on its occupants yet. The walls seemed to shake with each breeze that was blown their way, and a large crack ran through the window that had "Madame Vivian's Readings" written across it in an elegant script.
Before Trelawney could enter the shop, however, a red streak of light had already hit her in the back.
"Okay, is it actually okay to Apparate with someone who's Stunned? She won't get Splinched along the way, would she?" Ginny whispered to Hermione as they quickly went over to where Trelawney had fallen over, all the while checking to make sure that no one was looking at them.
Thankfully, the Divinations store that Trelawney was about to enter was situated in a place where there weren't too many people, so nobody took notice of what had happened.
The two of them placed an arm around Trelawney and hoisted her up.
"With Side-Along Apparition, the other person doesn't necessarily know where the person doing the Apparating wants to go, so I'm positive it would work with someone who was Stunned," Hermione answer as they quickly made their way to one of the quieter alleys around the corner.
"So have you actually gotten in contact with the bloke in Hong Kong? He wouldn't decide tell on us, would he?" Ginny asked.
"I've told him we'll arrive there before noon. I haven't told him who we are, so we might want to change our looks a little," Hermione replied. "All he knows is that there's someone who's troubled by the inner eye and wants it 'locked up' so to speak."
"Are you sure he's genuine though? I mean, really, inner eyes? Locking and unlocking it? Is it even possible?" Ginny asked with her eyebrows furrowed.
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know, but sources told me that quite a few Muggle-borns who haven't been told that they were witches and wizards had gone to him when they had started to have visions of some sort, and supposedly, the visions stopped after he 'locked up' their inner eyes." She sighed and rolled her eyes. "As far as I'm concerned, if this stops her from going into that trance and giving that stupid prophecy, I'm good."
"Same here," Ginny said with a nod. "What about the clause for International Apparition? Wouldn't we need to get permission for that?"
"Got them from Lestrange last week. He knows that Tom's keen on maintaining peace with the Asian countries until he's finished with the European ones, so he wasn't too surprised when I asked him for the papers to Apparate to Hong Kong," Hermione replied.
"Are you sure he wouldn't somehow track us down and find out where we're going?" Ginny asked with a frown.
"Got that covered, too," Hermione said with a victorious grin. "I've arranged a meeting with one of the Hong Kong local leaders at noontime, so once we get Trelawney's inner eye sealed up, we'll have a lunch with him before we come back."
"So we're leaving Trelawney in Hong Kong?" Ginny asked, amused.
"Sounds like a plan to me," Hermione said carelessly.
After making sure for the last time that nobody was looking their way, the two witches Apparated away with the still unconscious Trelawney.
By the time Hermione and Ginny returned to England, it was already two in the afternoon. They first stopped at the house that Ginny and Harry had gotten at Hogsmeade, quite close to where Tom and Hermione were living now.
"Oh, look who's here again," Ginny said, after she hung up her traveling cloak.
Draco, who was eating crisps from a bowl, blinked at her with a haughty look on his face. "Don't worry, Weaselette. I'm not interested in your husband."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Like I was ever worried about that. I'm more concerned about our food supply if there ever would be a world-ending apocalypse."
"I'm sure," Draco drawled.
"Don't you have food in your own house?" she asked as she stared at him through narrowed eyes.
"He eats here often?" Hermione questioned, walking up behind her.
"Every single meal," Ginny replied.
"Hermione, it's not as if I want to. Do you know how horrible it is to live by yourself?" Draco asked with a distraught face.
"Without house-elves, you mean?" asked Ginny sarcastically, earning a dirty look from him.
"Look, it's not my fault Gramps decided to throw me out," said Draco with a grimace.
The time travelers had come to realize that they never got old in the last fifteen years. It appeared that their ages seemed to have frozen in time. After this was brought to Tom's attention, he had suggested that they might not get any older until they reached the time when they were sent back into the past, and in this case, it would be the year 2000.
Abraxas had been especially disgruntled with this revelation, to the point that he booted his own grandson out of Malfoy Manor so that he would not be reminded of how much he would age in the future. Draco had, therefore, been forced to get his own house. He had decided to move in next door to Harry and Ginny, and it seemed like he had done so for certain purposes.
"I'm just surprised he didn't throw you out earlier," Harry joked as he walked out of the kitchen with a bowl of crisps of his own.
A bright smile appeared on Ginny's face as she approached her husband, threw her arms around his neck, and pecked him on his lips. The four of them then sat down and chatted until it was near sunset.
After declining Ginny's invitation to dinner, Hermione Apparated back to the home she shared with Tom—a house built on where it would've been the Shrieking Shack. She would've preferred something smaller, but Tom, of course, objected. After tricking her by letting her have a whole day down in the Chamber of Secrets to read books—he had claimed that it was a birthday gift—she'd come back only to find an, in her opinion, overly extravagant mansion for two people. She had been annoyed at first, but then decided that it was a bit ridiculous to argue with him about it. After all, if he ever held meetings with his followers, it wouldn't do well to have them in a cottage. However, she placed her foot down in matters regarding servants and got him to promise that he wouldn't allow unpaid labor in their home.
Or as Draco commonly joked, she'd "pestered" Riddle until he gave in to her.
Pushing open the front door, she took off her traveling cloak and hung it up in the closet. Tom was nowhere in sight, so she reckoned that he would be in his study, talking to one of his Death Eaters.
"My Lady, you're back."
She turned around and found Gerbasios Goyle hurrying up to her from the kitchen. Her eyebrows rose when she realized he must be emptying out their fridge again. The distant memory of drugging Gregory Goyle with cakes laced with Sleeping Draught came back to her, and a faint smile appeared on her face before she answered him.
"Hello to you, too, Gerbasios."
Though she still wasn't very comfortable with their insistence on calling her "my Lady," she had better things to do than to constantly correct them. Besides, the image of lording over Lucius constantly entertained Ginny and her—though she was friends with Draco, it didn't mean she necessarily had to like Lucius Malfoy.
"Um … you are going to see the Dark Lord?" Gerbasios asked, falling into the step next to her as she walked up the stairs.
"Yes," Hermione answered, finding his actions strange.
After all, it wasn't everyday that a Death Eater kept inquiring her about what she was going to do.
"Perhaps I should alert the Dark Lord first then," he said.
Before he could hurry ahead, however, Hermione grabbed him by his shoulder.
"That'll be all right, Gerbasios. I don't need my arrival to be announced," she told him.
"Is there something going on in his study that I'm not supposed to know?" she demanded, raising her eyebrows at him and crossing her arms over her chest.
"No … of course not," he answered, though his eyes darted around.
The way he was acting made Hermione suspicious, and without another word, she quickly went up the stairs and went to Tom's study, only to find the door not completely shut. She was about to push open the door when a voice—a man's voice—spoke from inside the room.
"I love you, Tom."
Pushing the door open, she was about to give the speaker a piece of her mind when she realized that he was hugging her man. The moment Tom saw Hermione enter the room, he'd somehow managed to pull himself out of the man's arms. However, she didn't want to row with him right now; there was another person who needed to be dealt with first.
Whipping out her wand, she cast the first curses that came to her mind.
The first two spells hit the man on the back, causing him to crash onto the floor in pain. However, he stomached the pain and pulled out his wand, casting a Shield Charm around himself.
That was when Hermione took notice of his features. Her mouth dropped open and she stared at him in shock.
The wizard in question glared at her in a way that Hermione could only describe as hatred. It was an expression she had never seen on Alphard before that she couldn't help but be taken aback by it.
"What—Why—How—" she sputtered.
"Alphard, return to your post," Tom said on the side.
Alphard stared at him in disbelief. "My Lord—"
"Or are you insinuating that you no longer wish to follow my orders?" asked Tom, raising an eyebrow in surprise.
"What? No, I think both of you have some explaining to do," Hermione said with her eyes narrowed.
"I don't have anything to explain to you," replied Alphard coldly as he got to his feet.
His hand was gripped so tightly around his wand that Hermione was pretty sure that if Tom weren't in the room, he would've sent curses at her.
"You were the one who'd told him—" She jabbed her finger in Tom's direction. "—that we were from the future. You lied to us, Alphard Black. You tricked us into believing you and this is how you repay our trust?" she asked disbelievingly. "I think you have a lot of things to explain to us." A revelation came to her at that moment, and her eyes widened. "You were the one who'd attacked Ginny all those years ago, weren't you?"
A nasty smirk twisted his features; he didn't seem to deem it important enough to answer Hermione, but his expression was enough of an affirmative for her.
"How could you?"
Alphard snorted derisively and sneered at her, "I think one sentence explains it all, Granger. I'm a Slytherin, dear."
Anger flared up in her; she couldn't believe that this was the man who'd helped Sirius run away from home. Could they have changed the timeline so much that even Alphard's personality was changed? But this couldn't be because Alphard's love for Tom had apparently started way before the four of them arrived in the past. Most likely, it was because of the changed circumstances that prevented Alphard from turning his back on Tom.
How was she going to explain this to Sirius? Well, she probably didn't have to any longer, since he was probably, most likely going to be on their side of the battle now, with no more Dumbledore around and the British wizarding world under Tom's control. However, this was still … shocking, to say the least.
While she digested all this information, Alphard finally left the room on Tom's orders. She was so absorbed with this revelation that she didn't even notice it when Alphard passed by her side, shooting her a murderous glare on his way out. The sound of the door slamming shut finally brought her out of her thoughts, and she rounded on Tom.
"You're leading him on," she accused, to which Tom raised an eyebrow.
"It's not called leading someone on if I never returned signals of any sort," he replied smoothly as he poured a glass of wine for himself.
She marched up to him and placed her hands on her waist. "But you didn't tell him off either. You don't even like men."
"He's a loyal Death Eater," he commented, taking a sip out of the glass.
"That's not a reason to lead someone on," she said through gritted teeth. "Now he's going to think that the only reason you're not with him is because I've snatched you away from him."
Amusement flashed over his eyes before he pulled on an innocent façade. "But you have, my dearest Hermione Granger. You have no idea how you've stolen my heart—"
"Something which you don't have," she added, rolling her eyes.
"—and made me realize that I only have eyes for you," he said dramatically.
"Oh please," she said. "Grow up, Riddle."
He didn't answer. Instead, his lips curved into a smile, and he pulled her into his arms. A single pale, long finger found a lock of her hair and twirled it around.
"Are you ever going to tell Alphard that you're not interested in him?" she questioned him, placing her hands on his chest.
"Are you ever going to tell Nicholas that you're not interested in him?" he asked with a sickeningly sweet smile.
A furious blush appeared on Hermione's cheeks. "That's different."
"How is it different, Hermione? After you went behind my back and saved him out of Nurmengard—"
"He was innocent," she said angrily. "It wasn't as if I could stand by and watch him get trapped in there for the rest of his life because of something you'd done."
"I'm sure it would've been devastating," he replied offhandedly. "You still never told him to go away."
"We only have academic discussions," she argued.
"Academic discussions, indeed. 'Hermione, thank you so much for the scarf you've knitted me. Do you mind making me a pair of gloves next?'" Tom mocked with an uncannily good imitation of Nicholas Lockhart-Lovegood.
She ogled at him in shock. "You were spying on me?"
If that were the case, that would mean that he would find out about what happened to Trelawney soon. She seriously hoped that wasn't the case, especially when both Ginny and she had taken extra precautions to make sure that nobody had been following them.
"It's not called spying—"
"What do you mean 'it's not called spying'? I am pretty sure that I never felt you using Legilimency on me, Riddle, so you obviously had someone following me without my permission." Her heart uncontrollably started to beat faster though she managed to keep worry out of her expression.
"Did you think that I was going to allow him time to be alone with you? I've seen what was going through his mind when he looks at you—"
Hermione slightly relaxed when she heard his words. Apparently, he'd only sent people to tail her when she was meeting with Nicholas. Well, at least, she hoped that was the case.
"There's nothing between Nicholas and me," she cut into his words. "And don't you dare try to send people following me ever again. And don't try to divert my attention. Alphard, despite being a despicable, annoying, stupid, moronic, idiot git, deserves to know that you don't have any feelings towards him and would—"
He let out a derisive snort. "At least I've never knitted scarves for Alphard."
"If you don't tell him that you're not interested, he's going to think that he might have a chance with you one day because you keep him around," she pointed out.
"Like the way you're keeping dear Nicholas as a pet?" he asked mockingly.
"I do not keep him like a pet," she denied. "I've told you already, academic discussions."
"I'm sure there aren't other people you can have academic discussions with," Tom sneered.
"He cares about house-elves, the same way I do. Not many people see other creatures as equal beings like us—and you're proving my point right now," she growled when he snorted. "Most of you lot are downright cruel to those poor creatures, not seeing that they can and might have superior knowledge in comparison to us. Then you lot decide to lock them up or put them through slavery, denying their rightful places in nature, while—"
His lips crashed down on hers, successfully stopping her from what would have been a long rant. At first, she struggled against him, but in the end, her arms found their way around his neck, bringing him closer and deepening their kiss.
She knew this was his way to shut her up, but who was she to reject a breathtaking kiss from Tom Marvolo Riddle? It was only later that she realized that he had somewhat successfully diverted her attention from the topic on hand. However, she wasn't worried at all. She had plenty of opportunities in the future to bring up the topic again. After all, they had plenty of years ahead of them.
They had until the end of time.
December 20, 1998, original timeline
He watched from afar as Potter, his fiancée, and his Mudblood friend entered Borgin and Burkes after Draco Malfoy. He did not have to worry about the three of them seeing him; the snowstorm was picking up in momentum and covered his tracks and whereabouts quite meticulously.
A cruel smile graced his features as he recalled how he'd forced Lucius Malfoy to dispatch his son to pick up the Coin of Charon at Knockturn Alley. Of course, Lucius hardly knew that what he had done would cost him his son.
That was the least the pompous idiot could do to repay his debt to Lord Voldemort. Nobody betrayed him without consequences, and Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were about to learn their lessons the hard way. They were unwise to believe that Lord Voldemort would die so easily. As if Horcruxes would be enough to preserve one's immortality!
No matter. Each person who had wronged him would learn what it meant to face the wrath of Lord Voldemort.
In regards to Potter … well, Lord Voldemort would make him wish that he were in the Malfoys' shoes.
He glided across the snow-covered street with hardly any effort and stood against the door, watching as the events unfold in front of him. A sneer appeared on his face as he watched Potter and Lucius's boy engage in a duel—if you could call it a duel.
A misplaced spell hit the first jar—one of the many jars that he had placed in Borgin and Burkes ahead of time. Borgin had been reluctant about purchasing the jars, thinking they had no value to them, but when the disguised Lord Voldemort had asked for nothing more than a few Knuts, the foolish owner of the shop jumped on the opportunity.
Little did Borgin know that the jars had immense value to Lord Voldemort.
He watched as the liquids on the floor touched and mixed, swiftly changing colors as he hissed the chant that would send his nemesis back into the past. As a burst of white light filled the room, his lipless mouth curved into satisfied smile, knowing that he had succeeded.
His younger self would take care of Potter and his friends. In the meantime, he would build up his army again. This time there would be no one left to stand in his way.
A cold, merciless laughter filled the air as he Disapparated from Knockturn Alley, completely oblivious to the fact his actions would change everyone's, including his own, life and destiny.
A/N: So this is it. "Somewhere in Time" is officially completed. Hope all of you enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing this.
In regards to future writing projects, as many of you already know, I still have quite a few ongoing projects on my profile (such as "Prisms of Darkness", "A Tangle of Webs", and small outtakes for "Somewhere in Time") as well as the story that I'm co-writing with Nerys, "The Gold Puppet." So, hopefully, those of you who've enjoyed this crazy Tomione ride through time with me will enjoy other works I'll post in the future.
For the last time, under this thread, many thanks to those of you who've read, added to fave, and added to alert. Huge, huge thanks to the following:
Betas: Marauder's Wolf and Nerys
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