Hello Lovely Readers!
Well, you aren't going to believe this but this is the FINAL CHAPTER for One Timeless Chance! I would like to thank a lot of people for making this possible and spurring me on through this crazy ride but most of all I would like to thank TIADORABLE, my wonderful, fantastic, gorgeous beta who's been there from the very beginning even though she can't stand anything other than Dramione fics! She's been absolutely wonderful and I owe this fic in much part to her. Thanks heaps girl!
On a final note I would like to inform you that One Timeless Chance will not be a stand alone fic. IT WILL BE A TRILOGY! I've finally worked out where all the plot work is going and so I've now found that it is possible for this story to continue into two sequels.
So thank you once more, all you lovely readers and keep a look out for the next installment "Another Timeless Chance."
As always R&R
Chapter Twenty Six: What Did He Do?
Eileen sat with her for hours. She cried, she screamed she tried to attack her and then finally she gave up entirely until she was in a space inside her mind where no one on the outside could reach her. She stared into space and did not react no matter how much Eileen shook her, hit her or even cursed her. Her lip would tremble every now and then and her breathing would hitch but other than that there was no sign at all that she was conscious or even alive.
Eileen became very scared. Here she was, sitting in a bomb site with Tom Riddle's girlfriend in her arms, almost unconscious and completely mental. But aside from the fear, something else stirred inside her.
It was anger.
She had seen so many hurt because of this man, so many fall because of his ambitions, and everyone else's nightmares. And now this lovely young woman who had walked into their lives and stolen her heart was falling because she loved someone who would never love her back. She didn't quite understand what about the mark had turned her mad but she didn't need to. All she knew was that it had happened and she needed to reverse it. For Hermione's sake.
She took a deep breath and stood her up, wrapping one arm behind her back and placing hers over her shoulder.
"Come on Hermione," she whispered, "Let's get you to bed."
She thought better of moving into Tom's room and instead took out her wand. She repaired the broken windows and turned the bed back on its feet. She managed to clear some of the rubble but not all of it and made sure that each pillow had extra feathers inside it. She then took the girl in her arms over to the mattress and laid her there as she removed her shoes, her skirt, her shirt and robes, leaving her only in her underwear. She took care and transfigured one of the draws into a small bowl filled with water and an extra pillow case into a sponge and wiped the dirt from her flesh as well as cleaning some of the wounds she had either inflicted upon herself or had been given to her by the ceremony. Hermione whimpered a few times when she passed over some of the more open wounds but other than that she heard nothing from her. She just stared at the ceiling as though a dementor had sucked her soul straight from her body. She was limp and lifeless, a shell.
"What are you doing here?"
And there was her maker.
Eileen glared down at the floor, finding a rage in her that she had never felt before. Trying to control it was next to impossible. It flared, it danced, it urged her, ordered her to hurt him, to maim him, to make him feel just an ounce of what Hermione was feeling.
"Get out," she whispered.
Tom's eyes found her in the bed and they widened to the point of popping out of his skull. He instantly drew his wand and was about to curse her for even thinking about laying her hands on what was his but for the first time in his life Tom Riddle was beaten to it. A potion soared through the air and once it landed on the floor before him he was thrown from the room, crashing into the coffee table of the lounge and smashing it to pieces.
Eileen quietly finished bathing Hermione and then wrapped her up in the warm covers, placing a kiss on her forehead before moving out of the bedroom and into the lounge where Tom's eyes were glowing a fatal red.
"Leave this room before I kill you," he instructed quietly.
"No," she whispered back.
"What did you do to her, Prince?" He demanded. Eileen let a dark chuckle escape her lips.
"What did I do?" She asked, "What did you do?! You've completely torn her mind to pieces!"
He froze. No. No it couldn't have done this! He had researched it perfectly! Found all the right incantations, done everything that his books had said and she was fine when she had left him! There was no way that he had done this!
He went to go forward but Eileen stuck her wand in his face.
"You can't take me, Prince," he growled, "You don't have enough power to beat me."
"I don't have to beat you," she hissed, "I just have to incapacitate you long enough to run."
"That would defeat your purpose," he said.
"If you take one step into that room then I will tell everyone what you have been doing the moment you walked into this place!"
He glared at her, attempted to stare her down but it didn't work. She stood strong and breathed heavily, trying to reign in her anger and failing. She tried so hard not to hex him, knowing that he would kill her and she prayed that she would be able to hold it down until he left. She had to be smart but her emotions were overriding her brain.
"You owe me a life debt," he said, "If I hadn't rescued you from that fire you started when you murdered your father's drug dealer then you would have gone up in smoke."
"And I would have been happy to do it," she told him, "I have no gratitude towards you Riddle and I am done letting you blackmail me. I mean it, if you go anywhere near her I will scream your secrets from the top of the Astronomy Tower."
"I would push you off before you uttered a word."
"Then I would come back," she threatened, poking her wand into his chest, "I would come back and haunt this castle and still scream. I would tell Slughorn and Dippet and Dumbledore and even the Minister if he dropped by for a visit. Mark my words Riddle, you will not get away with what you've done."
Tom looked passed her into Hermione's room to see her staring into space, feeling nothing, seeing nothing. She was right, he had done this to her. But he would reverse it and no one was going to stop him. He looked back down at the determined witch with the most powerful glare he possessed and he saw that it made her falter slightly in her resolve.
"You will regret this day, Prince," he hissed at her before sweeping out the door. Eileen watched as the tapestry door closed behind him and then she moved back into Hermione's room. As she gazed at her she realized that the girl hadn't heard a thing of what had happened. Something for which she was grateful.
It was then that she made her decision.
Tom moved quickly through out the castle, moving lower and lower, down, down into the dungeons until he reached the Slytherin common room. It was packed with students all excitedly talking about how their holidays had gone and how they couldn't wait to get back to lessons. Tom had no time for this.
"Everyone, GET OUT!" He roared. Students fled left and right until only Tom and a few of his followers were left. Among those was Abraxus.
"All of you but Abraxus, see to it that every single student in this castle and every teacher is occupied and away from my chambers, is that clear?" He ordered. Each and every one of them nodded. He then indicated for Abraxus to follow him. They moved swiftly out of the common room and began moving back upwards again. Once Tom felt that they were a safe enough distance away he turned to Abraxus and shoved him into a wall, his wand instantly at the boy's throat.
"What did you do?" He growled.
"I don't understand, my Lord," he choked, "I-I've done nothing."
"You gave me the wrong text book didn't you?" He hissed, "You wanted her to go insane so that she wasn't placed above you. Jealous like the rest of them..."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he coughed, "I swear I gave you the right one. I swear it."
"THEN WHY DID IT GO WRONG?!"
Abraxus' eyes widened in fear at his words. He had no idea that it had gone wrong, no idea that she was suffering. She had been fine when she had left the ceremony, completely fine. He hadn't tampered with the spell, after all, he had known what the punishment would have been for that. He could still see Cygnus in his mind after all. He could still see what the Dark Lord had done to him for betraying him....
"What are you going to tell Tom when he asks what we were doing?" He asked her before she left.
"I'm going to tell him that Dolohov and Mulciber were planning on ambushing me the moment I left the hall," she told him, "And that I didn't want to worry him with it. He should eat that up easily enough."
"I can see how well that would go down," he told her, "He'll probably end up killing them you know?"
"Yes," she nodded, "But with them its only a matter of time before they come after me anyway. They aren't too happy with their lord's choice."
He nodded again.
"Alright then," he said, stepping towards her and embracing her. She stiffened slightly at first but relaxed into his embrace and leaned her head on his shoulder.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"No Cygnus," she whispered back, "Thank you."
She moved inside the door, clicking it softly to close it and once she was out of sight...that was when he moved. Abraxus and the others grabbed him and gagged him before he could make a sound. His eyes widened in fear as he saw the look in his best friend's eyes. Guilt was written all over his face.
"So she plans to betray me."
They all turned to see Tom walk into the corridor with an icy expression on his face, his eyes emotionless and untelling but for the red glow in the irises. Cygnus had really bitten off more than he could chew this time.
"I must admit that I had seen this coming," Tom whispered, "I knew it was too good to be true. There is no way that a witch that powerful could ever see it my way willingly. But you Cygnus," Cygnus fought his binders at the sound of his name, "I'm surprised at you. After everything that I have done, this is how you repay my good will?"
Cygnus glared at him and wanted to reply but the one who had the cloth over his mouth wouldn't relieve the pressure. He simply settled fighting and glaring until Tom smirked.
"I do believe he wishes to say something," he said innocently, "Let him speak. There are too many wards around this passage way for anyone to hear."
His jaw was released and the cloth was removed and Cygnus finally let loose on what he had been holding back for the last three years.
"You are a cold hearted bastard and I hope like hell that she succeeds in killing you!" He yelled. If he was going to die then he may as well deserve it. He was a Black, he didn't hide in the face of death and he would be damned if he let Riddle see him weaken in the presence of it. Tom kept his features smooth and emotionless as he spoke.
"You do, do you?" He asked. Cygnus just sat there and glared. Abraxus closed his eyes in fear for his friend. He knew what was going to happen now and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He couldn't risk talking to Tom for fear of his own life and there was no way that he would listen anyway. Cygnus had made his bed and now he had to lie in it.
Tom strode forward and Cygnus struggled against his captors once more. He knew that whatever was going to happen next was going to hurt. He fought and he fought but they were all just too strong and once Tom stood before him he knew it was over. But he didn't take out his wand. Instead, much to his surprise, the boy took out a knife. He plunged it into Cygnus' left arm and he screamed his lungs out as Tom carved his flesh with a maniacal glint in his glowing red eyes. He sneered down at him and stabbed at it some more and continued to do so even as the boy screamed. When he was done, he was left with a patch of skin in his hand...Cygnus' dark mark, bloodied and gleaming in the dusty light.
"You are not worthy of this anymore," Tom told him before walking away, "You may do what you wish with him. Just leave him alive. He must live the rest of his life knowing that he will suffer for betraying me..."
Cygnus now lay in the hospital wing, every single bone in his body broken, bruised, bloodied, dislocated and unconscious. He had been tortured many times over, sliced open so much that he almost bled out and knocked in the head so much that they had to revive him several times. Abraxus had done what he perceived to be the decent thing and not taken part. He had just sat back and watched as his best friend received the beating of his life.
But now as he had Tom's wand at his throat, he almost wished he had stopped it.
"I don't know why it went wrong," he told him, "I swear master, I have no idea. Please let me help-"
"You are just as pathetic as Black," he sneered as he threw him to the floor, "You will not help me. You will go up to my rooms and get Eileen out. I don't care what you have to do, kill her if you wish. Just make sure she is gone by the time I get there and make sure she does not return!"
Tom swept away once more leaving Abraxus puzzled and gasping for air on the dungeon floor.
Dear Draco and Leopold
Come as quickly as you can. She isn't in good shape and I don't know how long I can hold Riddle off. I don't care where you come from and I don't care what you're doing here just get her out of this castle before he does anything more to her.
She finished the note quickly and then threw it into the fireplace with some floo powder. She could only hope that they hadn't gone out shopping or anything and would arrive soon. She would deal with Riddle for them. All she needed to know was that Hermione was physically safe from harm. After this, she wouldn't trust Riddle's judgment as far as she could throw it, no matter how much he thought he cared. She would not allow him anywhere near her best friend.
There was suddenly a knock at the door. She turned her head quickly to see Abraxus standing there looking winded, as though he would collapse at any moment. But she knew him. She knew why he was here.
"Get out," she said harshly.
"No, get out!" She ordered, pointing back out the door.
He didn't get out. He moved further in and Eileen felt she had no choice other than to draw her wand. He looked hurt at first but then he smiled.
"You haven't drawn a wand on my since fifth year," he said to her. She softened slightly at the memory.
"You tried to look up my skirt during dinner," she told him, "What was I supposed to do? Laugh?"
He did laugh. A light, carefree chuckle. Something she hadn't heard from him in a very long time. It unnerved her. He was wearing a smile but it didn't quite reach his eyes, forced and yet he could laugh so effortlessly. He was acting. If she hadn't known him for so long, she would never have known but she had known him and known him well. She didn't take the scowl off her face as he expected her to and he stopped pretending. The smile dropped from his face and a look of pure honesty coated his features.
"Eileen, he'll kill you," he whispered.
"I don't care," she said back, determined, "He can do what he likes to me but he is not getting his hands on her and neither are you."
"He can fix it," he told her and she rolled her eyes as she went back to Hermione's side and he followed, "He can reverse the effect that he created-"
"What did he do?" She had her wand out once more as she glared at him. He stayed silent. She stood and glared at him once more with all her might, jabbing her wand into his chest.
"What. Did. He. Do?"
It was seeing the fire in her eyes that made him do it, the passion there that he couldn't deny. It was disappointing her that hurt most, losing her love for what he had done. He hated seeing her angry, especially at him.
"It wasn't meant to hurt her," he whispered and she scoffed at him, "Tom had discovered she and Cygnus were up to-"
Eileen paled at the mention of his name and raised her wand higher. She took in shallow, ragged breaths and her eyes widened with fear.
"What did you do to him?" she whispered as tears welled in her eyes. She knew the answer but she had to hear it from him first. She had to see whether he would lie to her or not.
"I didn't do anything to him," he tried to say but she wouldn't let him off that easy.
"Then what did he do?!" She screamed. Abraxus stood there pale and almost shaking at her wrath and pain. He took a deep breath and kept a cool mask on his face as he told her.
"He's in the hospital wing," he said quietly as a strangled sob escaped her lips and she collapsed onto the bed with Hermione, "All his bones are broken, his joints are dislocated and he's bleeding both on the outside and the inside."
Another sob escaped her lips as tears poured down her face.
"Madam Gertrude says he probably won't make the night," he told her, "But if he does, then he will be released from the Dark Lord's service."
She stopped sobbing for a few moments and processed what he said before turning back to face him in what he thought was astonishment. He expected her to jump for joy at the news that her friend had been set free. Instead she looked at him like he was a bug on the bottom of her shoe. She took in a deep and shaky breath, her lips trembling.
"And you think I should be grateful for that?" She whispered. She picked up the lamp next to the bed and threw it at him.
"You think I should thank you for beating him!" She screamed, "For torturing him! For almost killing him!"
She picked up another object and threw it when the lamp missed and continued to do so, backing him up and out of the room.
"You unimaginable bastard!" She screamed, "I hate you!"
At that he let out a roar of his own and tackled her to the ground. She punched him and kicked him and tried to get him off of her but he was too strong. She kept screaming "I hate you!" at him over and over and over again and each scream pierced his heart to the very core. As she screamed he felt his own pain and hurt begin to slip out of his control and it started to show on his face. His jaw trembled, his breathing became ragged and his grip tightened on her arms.
"I'm so sorry Eileen," he whispered, kissing her for what he knew would be the very last time before he managed to get to his wand without letting her go and stunning her senseless. When she stopped moving he took in a deep breath to calm his guilt and suffering and closed his eyes. He couldn't bear to look at what he had done. He didn't want to look at her motionless form and unforgiving eyes. It was just too much.
He picked her up in his arms, still refusing to look at her and walked out of the chambers and made the short walk to the hospital wing where Madam Gertrude was still busy at work trying to save Cygnus' life. Her eyes widened at the thought of another attack and when she told him that he got to her before her "assailants" could do any damage she breathed a sigh of relief and told him to leave her there and that she would deal to her later. Abraxus did not miss the cold look that Cygnus gave him from underneath his bandages and bruises before he slipped back into unconsciousness.
He blasted the door to the restricted section open, knowing full well that with his wards up that no one would be able to hear or disturb him. He marched inside, determined to find the answers he sought and glared at every single book on the shelf. It was in the glass of one of the cabinets that he happened to catch a glance at his reflection.
Much was the same. But his eyes were glowing a red that he hadn't seen before. He stopped for only a few moments to examine it, touching his cheek and staring at his reflection before he remembered his objective and decided to figure it out later.
He had to find out what he had done and how to reverse it quickly. No way would any queen of his be a vegetable. He ran his fingers along the spines of ancient books that were all too familiar with him...
Dark Magic and its uses
The Arts and Dark Arts
Horcruxes and How to Make them
Magic of Darkness: A full encyclopedia of dark wizardry
None of them had what he wanted. None of them could help him reverse the effect. All he had wanted was complete control. Was that so much to ask?...
He stared at her by the door way with an emotionless mask as she sat at the mirror and brushed her long black hair. He really did prefer that she kept it that way. It showed who she really was on the inside. If only she would realize it for herself.
But it had taken her too long. Now that she had betrayed him he couldn't give her anymore time and he was not about to risk his future, his plans, his empire, just so that she could discover who she really was. It was too late for that now.
He walked forward slowly, continuing to watch her as she moved the brush over her ebony curls. She really was a beautiful creature. It had taken him so long to notice it but now that he had...He was not going to let her go. It didn't matter that she had betrayed him, it didn't matter that she couldn't see the truth about herself. He would show it to her in time but for now she needed to be controlled, tamed.
And he had many ways to do that.
"Allow me?" He said as he finally stood behind her. She jumped slightly and then laughed when she realized it was him. She looked at him through the mirror and smiled, handing the brush over to him and letting him run it down her locks. He took great care, running his fingers through it after the brush as he spoke.
"What did Cygnus want?" He asked her quietly. He unconsciously felt around inside his pocket where the boy's mark still lay.
"He simply wished to warn me that Dolohov and Mulciber were planning to ambush me after I left dinner," she told him, "That's why he escorted me out early."
"I see," he replied softly, "I must reward him for protecting his Lady."
She smiled at him again but it didn't quite reach her eyes. He continued to brush and eye her expression. She seemed relaxed enough but he knew that she was lying through her teeth. He had always been able to tell when she was lying, even when she wasn't intentionally lying, even when she wasn't lying to him. He was just so attuned to her, to her body language, to the pitches of her voice. He knew her inside and out now. And it was time to show it.
"Of course," he continued as he brushed again and again, "I will have to punish him first."
He saw the slightest of flinches escape her. That was all he needed.
"Why is that?" She asked smoothly.
He gave a feral growl and threw the brush away before clenching his hands into her shoulders and bringing his lips right by her ear.
"I know what you planned to do Hermione," he whispered as she let out a cry for the pain she was feeling as he dug his nails in.
"I didn't-" She ground out but he lost his temper and threw her from the chair to the bed that they shared.
"Don't lie to me!" He demanded as she looked back at him, feeling hurt emotionally at the expression on his face.
He walked over to her and forcefully pulled her up by her left wrist, taking his wand out as he went. Her eyes widened and she began to fight him. She tried to yank herself from his grip but when that merely annoyed him she went for a different tactic. She stuck her foot to his shin and when he let go she instantly ran for it. She bolted for the door but he shot her down with a well aimed Incarcerous. He got up from the floor, breathing heavily and glaring. His eyes were a murderous shade of red that she had come to associate with Voldemort senior and not his junior, easier to deal with, other half.
"You betrayed me," he said to her.
"No," she shook her head.
"You've been betraying me from the very beginning," he continued.
"No," she said louder, "Tom I swear-"
"Your word means nothing!" He yelled, finally his cool masks and façades finally falling to waste at his feet as his anger finally came forward. He picked her up and struck her hard across the cheek.
"You will learn to respect my authority and obey my every command in time," he whispered to her, his lips so close to hers, "And you will regret ever crossing my path. Because now that I know who and what you really are...I am never letting you go."
With that he lifted her wrist once more and stared her hard in the eyes as he pointed his wand at it.
"Imperius Morsmordre!" He whispered.
And she screamed. Tears leaked from her eyes for the first time since he had known her and she no longer fought. She gave up and in defeat she was more beautiful to him than she had ever been. The skull and serpent tattoo laced itself onto her skin, black as night and once it was done he finally released her and the spell and let her fall to the floor before his feet. He then pointed his wand to her head and planted a false memory of the forest and a ceremony in which she willingly took his mark as his followers watched.
He watched as she sat there, still, almost lifeless until he spoke.
"Hermione?" He asked. She turned her face up to him, an expressionless mask to mirror his own.
"Yes master?" She asked and he smiled. This was much better...
And it was. She had been obedient, yielding and not at all rebellious. She had carried out his every request for at least half an hour before he had to leave to check that Cygnus wasn't dead. She had been exactly the same when he had left and it was only when he returned that he knew something was wrong. The only question was how Eileen had gotten into the room in the first place and interfered with the charm. It was obvious that she was responsible for this! No one else would bother to try and free her from his hold unless they were complete idiots or suicidal and Eileen Prince was neither of those. She genuinely cared for the witch and Hermione cared for her. He had sensed it in her many times.
Perhaps it had been Tom's mistake, getting the girl to spy on her for him? He should have known that she would grow attached. Her weakness was obviously more pronounced than the regular witch though. Otherwise, why would she go to such lengths to defend her?
None of it made sense. At least not now. And so he kept searching until he found his answers....
Draco and Severus walked in the door to Spinner's end with groceries lining their arms. It had been a rather surreal experience shopping in the 1940's. Everything appeared different and there were chimney sweeps looking for work and shoe shiners all over the street trying to earn some cash. Draco had been gracious and let a small boy shine his shoes and gave him twice the amount of what the shining was actually worth. Severus dropped his bags on the kitchen table and then turned to his younger companion.
"You put these away and I'll set up for dinner," he told him. Draco groaned.
"Why do I always have to put the stuff away?" He moaned, "Can't you swap just this once?"
"Because I can hex your school boy bottom from here to China faster than you say Quidditch if you don't do as I ask," Severus said simply, "And this is my house after all."
Draco grumbled something about lazy old bats and began to pack everything away in the cupboards. Severus smirked before walking away into the dining room. It was frightfully chilly in there and so he went to the living room in order to retrieve an extra set of robes. It was then that he noticed the note that lay on the floor by the fireplace...
Breathe, breathe, breathe. Don't stop breathing. Don't let him win.
It was all she could do to stop herself from falling into the oblivion that Tom's spell had created for her. Chant over and over again, remind herself that there was something waiting for her other than the seven flies and forty-two cracks on the ceiling. She couldn't move, she couldn't speak, all she could do was lie there and chant to herself over and over again and try to fight off the hell that he had created.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
She was desperately clawing onto her sanity, trying so hard not to fall into the darkness. She had no idea what kind of spell he had put on the mark on her arm but obviously it was meant to work the moment it touched her skin because she had been fighting it ever since. And it was obvious that it wasn't meant to be fought. That was what had landed her here. When she tried to resist it turned on her, throwing memories and emotions at her to try and get her to submit until she completely lost it and trashed her room, broke the windows and tore the wallpaper off the walls with her own bare hands. She was left calloused, bruised, bleeding and exhausted by the time she collapsed into Eileen's arms and so her body gave up fighting but her mind and magic carried on.
She didn't pay attention to what happened around her after that. It was too much of an effort to try and concentrate on staying sane as well as worry about what was going on around her. She simply focused on staying alive and staying in the right frame of mind to live.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
What she didn't get was how he had found out. She and Cygnus had been so careful, so precise in hiding it and she was damn sure that he wasn't the one who spilled the beans. Perhaps he had just read it straight out of her mind like he had so many other things? She wasn't exactly the most skilled Occlumens, something she would have to change, and he had proven time and time again to know things that he obviously shouldn't. It made sense. It was logical. It was the only theory she had.
And it really pissed her off.
She had worked so hard to keep everything from him, so hard to bring him down and in a matter of minutes she had been found out and incapacitated. Was all her work for nothing? Was she really going to go through the rest of her life as a vegetable because he couldn't handle the fact that he may have an effective resistance on his hands? It just wasn't fair!
Wait. No...she couldn't have. There was no way that she just moved. She had ever so slightly flexed her left wrist. The thought itself seemed so impossible to her. So little had happened and so much time had passed that she thought she would never get out of this.
Argh! She could curse the living daylights out of him for doing this to her! How dare he take away her free will! He had no right no matter how badly she betrayed him. But that was his whole M.O, wasn't it? Doing things that he had no right to do.
It happened again. Though this time it was stronger. She really felt it when her wrist flicked outwards. But what was causing it? Could the spell have been wearing off? No, Riddle was fat to smart to create a spell that would wear off in a matter of hours. Whenever he did anything he always made sure it was researched properly and carried out with care. Pfft, fat lot of good it did him this time.
There! It happened again, this time with her fingers flexing and loosening in the tendons. Perhaps there was still hope for her yet. She figured it must have been her anger that triggered it, a sudden surge of magic that gave her limited control. She instantly started running with that thought, concentrating on what she would like to do to Riddle when she got out of this, on the unfairness of the situation, her annoyance with Draco and Severus for letting her fight this on her own for so long. Every ounce of anger, hatred and frustration surged through her body and after what seemed like hours she groaned. Actually, groaned. Not the mental grunts and groans she had been using to keep herself sane but an actual sound escaping her lips. She felt the feeling of her body return to her, her fingers prickle, her legs tingle and her insides twist.
Oh, that one wasn't good.
She instantly shoved herself over the side of the bed and heaved her guts out, the contents of her stomach landing all over the rubble on the floor. She leaned back and collapsed back onto the bed, closing her eyes and feeling moisture coat them once more to prevent the cracking of her irises. Once she felt relatively physically comfortable she slowly removed herself from the bed and wrapped a sheet around herself so she didn't feel so exposed as she searched for her wand, knotting the material at her bust to create a dress of sorts. She knew it was there somewhere, perhaps under some overturned stone or hiding under the rug? Or maybe....yes, it was inside the pocket of her robes. Once she had it she moved very slowly over to the bathroom, breathing heavily as she went. Her body still hadn't adjusted to having her control it once more and so this was going to be one very difficult recovery.
Once there she looked herself over in the mirror. Eileen had done a good job of cleaning her up and making sure that she was taken care of. All the scratches that she remembered giving herself were either completely healed or already on the mend. She had no dirt lining her skin like she remembered and once she looked down at her scantily clad body she realized that Eileen must have given her a bath too. The last place she looked was the top of her head. Her hair was back to its usual golden brown, curly state, something she was overjoyed about. She felt like her again.
She ducked behind the hand basin at the sound of a door opening, trying desperately hard to avoid the dizzy spell that threatened to take over. Whoever had entered the room walked slowly towards her bedroom, almost as though they were dreading what they might see there. When the footsteps stopped she knew that they were staring at an empty bed. They then began running through the chambers, searching each room and coming up with nothing. With each room came quicker footsteps and a more panicked rhythm. She curled herself even further behind the basin when she heard them run to the bathroom and slam the door open.
"No," he whispered, "No, no, NO!"
Abraxus was clearly not a happy boy. She heard him run out of the chambers entirely and she knew it wouldn't be long before he went to go and get Tom to try and find her. She stood as quickly as she could and moved back into her bedroom. The moment she entered the room, emerald green flames erupted out of the fireplace and she held her wand high, ready for anything that would come her way. What she wasn't ready for was a fierce looking Severus and a determined Draco running out, ready for battle. She dropped her wand at the sight of them when they emerged, her eyes wide with astonishment. It took them a few moments to realize that she was awake and well but when they did the effect was instant.
Their expressions changed from battle ready to battle weary as they gazed at her with both confusion and relief. They both pocketed their wands and ran over to her, Draco engulfing her in his arms so tightly that the pressure prevented her from breathing. But she didn't care. She squeezed him back just as tightly and didn't want to let go.
"I'm so sorry Granger," he whispered, "I'm so sorry. I should never have doubted you, I shouldn't have-"
"Shut up Malfoy before I decide you're going soft on me," she sobbed and laughed at the same time. Draco managed a weak chuckle. After what seemed like an eternity she let him go and turned to Severus, giving him much the same treatment as Draco, squeezing the hell out of him to. No words needed to be exchanged there. They both knew what the other was thinking.
"What happened?" Draco finally asked her as she let go of Severus and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"My cover was blown," she told them and their eyes widened, "Somehow he found out that Cygnus and I were planning to betray him. He got to Cygnus and then after that...he came after me."
"What did he do?" Severus asked as he instantly went into survival mode and began checking her over for injuries. Hermione instantly pulled away from him and turned her back on the two of them, hiding her arm from them. They both looked at each other and then looked back at her.
"Hermione," Draco said tenderly, "You can tell us. We know you're loyal to the Order-"
"It's not that," she whispered before turning back to them, "I'm just ashamed that I let him do it."
She then revealed her left arm to them and as Draco gasped Severus closed his eyes, a pained expression on his face. He didn't want to look at it. The fact that he had one of his own was hard enough to deal with but now the fact that this innocent, beautiful young woman was marred by it's presence too he could barely stand to face the skull and serpent before him.
"He did something to it," she told them quietly, "He tried to control me with it but when I fought it I sort of...went mad."
"Where's Eileen?" He asked her quietly, "She came back through this fireplace, where is she?"
"I don't know," she shook her head, "She found me when I was going mental and she managed to calm me down until I went into a Cataplectic state and was unable to move. After that I concentrated on staying alive and forgot about what was going on around me."
"Well obviously she isn't dead," Draco told them. They both looked at him in confusion.
"How do you figure that one?" Hermione asked him.
"Well if she was either Severus wouldn't be here or something massive would have happened," he told them, "It just wouldn't make sense if she was dead."
Well, that much was true at least. If she really thought about it the way Draco did then there was no chance at all that Eileen was dead. But something else was now bugging her, something that she needed answers on quickly if they were to move forward.
"So what do we do now?" She asked softly as she stared at them both, "Where do we go from here?"
Draco looked at Severus and he nodded, for once being in agreement with the blond.
"We go home," he told her, "There is no way that you can continue this mission now, not now that he knows that you're working against him."
She wanted desperately to protest but she knew he was right. Riddle knew what she was up to, at least enough to tell him that having her around and in control of her own thoughts was a bad thing for him. If she stayed, it would be suicide.
"No, what you do now," a cold voice said from the doorway, "Is drop your wands to the floor and kick them away before I blast you all into next century."
She was afraid to turn. She was afraid to even move. She knew who that voice belonged to and yet she did nothing but wish and hope and pray that it was someone else, anyone else. Unwillingly, she turned to face him, as did the others and she took a deep calming breath to stop her from doing anything irrational or stupid. And to stop her from passing out with fear. He wore the iciest expression she had ever seen in her life, his eyes fixed on the three of them with his wand trained on her heart. Abraxus did nothing but stand next to him, looking guilty as ever as he stared at her. She could almost see his heart wrench in pain.
"Your wands," he demanded, "I will not ask again."
The two men threw their wands to the floor without a second glance and kicked them in opposite directions, each wearing a glare fit for Harry Potter.
"Right," Tom said pleasantly, even though his expression stayed the same, "Shall we have a little question and answer session? I think I could do with some information."
No one else spoke as he whipped his wand in the air and five chairs appeared, one behind each person in the room. He sat down gracefully in his seat where as Abraxus simply collapsed into his seat. Hermione remained standing and stopped the other two from sitting by clinging onto the back of their robes where Riddle couldn't see where her hands were. At first neither knew why she did so but when she started to feel around their backs they instantly relaxed and began to play her game. Riddle glared at her.
"Come now dearest," he said in a somewhat polite tone, "You can't stand forever. Not in your current state."
"I don't plan to be standing forever," she glared at him, "Just long enough to kill you."
"Oh really?" He asked quietly, "I do believe you've been trying to do that since you arrived here and it seems that you've failed thus far."
"How do you know that this wasn't the grand plan all along?" She challenged.
"Because there have been too many mistakes my dear," he told her, "Too many tiny clues as to what you've been up to. The lies you told me, the slip up of names, the false information, the secrecy. I always knew you were up to something but it wasn't until you allowed Cygnus to guide you away from the hall for no reason that I knew you were out to kill me. The only question I really wish to ask you now is...why?"
She stared at him.
"You want to know why?" She asked.
"I could have given you everything," he whispered, "I could have given you the world and all you were interested in was taking me for granted, learning my secrets and then murdering me once you had all your need."
She could have almost laughed at the way his thoughts were headed. Here was Hogwarts' most cunning, brightest wizard...and he thought that she was out to steal his glory. He thought that she wanted to take his place as the resident bad ass control freak with a thing for double chocolate swirl ice cream and a nasty attitude problem. She could have laughed at the absurdity of it but the situation was too dire to find the humor. She simply settled, instead, for playing along.
"Well you see that was the plan all along wasn't it?" She told him, "I knew from the moment I crawled in those doors that you knew a few things I didn't so why not find them out and then get rid of the competition? It was all just too easy."
"Until you started sleeping with me," he told her, "Then things got just a little bit out of hand, didn't they? Once you had a taste of what the world could be like with me you just couldn't let it go long enough to kill me."
She flinched at his words. Unfortunately he had hit the nail right on the coffin. She had had a taste of what the world would be like by his side, the things she could accomplish, the life she would have and yes, she had liked it long enough to question herself and her motives. She had been battling it for such a long time that she eventually blocked it out but even she couldn't deny that she had changed.
"We could still have it," he said to her, "We could still have everything that I told you about. The world would be ours if you would just work with me-"
"No," she whispered, "You see that's where our problem lies Tom. You don't want me to work with you, you want me to work for you and that's not something that I'm comfortable with."
She finally found what she was looking for on Severus' right hip and clutched at it. She also found something else of interest on Draco's back that she thought could be useful and held onto that as well. She continued to glare at Riddle until he finally came up with a solution to her statement.
"I could help you adjust," he told her softly, "I've found an alternative to the spell. I could get you to adjust to it and then you would be fine-"
"Forgive me but this was an experience that I'm in no way willing to repeat," she glared.
Finally his mask slipped and he glared at her openly for the first time.
"Very well," he said as he raised his wand. This was it. She squeezed the object on Severus' hip and tried to set it into motion while she removed the object from Draco's back.
"There's nothing more to say then," she said to him calmly.
"Nothing at all," he replied. Severus' hip made a small clicking sound and she knew it wouldn't be long. She clutched to the handle of the object in her other hand tightly and waited for Riddle to make a move.
"Goodbye Miss Evans," he whispered, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
All three of them jumped out of the way, Severus and Draco diving for their wands as Hermione grabbed hers before leaping behind the bed and returning fire. Abraxus and the other men quickly joined the fight too and wands were all soon blazing with jets of blue and yellow and green light. Hermione had to move several times as the killing curse narrowly missed her as it shot straight through the bed.
"Severus!" She yelled over the ferocious wand-fire, "How long?"
He looked down at his hip briefly as another jet of green light flew over his head before swiftly ducking behind the summoned chair and using it as a shield.
"Thirty seconds!" He yelled back, "Be ready for it Draco!"
Draco nodded as he shot another spell back at Riddle and narrowly missed. Abraxus shot another at Severus and he was hit squarely in the chest by Hermione's stunner. It was just the four of them after that, lights ablazing, adrenaline running through their veins. When Severus shot her a frantic glance, Hermione knew that her time in this era was almost over. Her world seemed to slow down around her almost to a guided stop. Spells no longer soared but glided past her vision and debris appeared to float rather than shoot in all directions. She saw Severus running to get to Draco and knew that it was time to move. She stood from behind the couch and began to run towards Draco as well. It was the slowest sprint of her young life. As she finally reached them the brightest students that Hogwarts had ever seen launched their final attacks.
Hermione launched the dagger she had detached from Draco's back straight at Riddle.
Riddle launched the only weapon he had left.
To be continued...