Hermione turned over her calendar before hanging it back up, today was a Monday and the first day of December. The weather felt colder than yesterday, and after a look outside the window she saw it was lightly snowing. At breakfast she had to use a warming spell to stop herself from slightly shivering, and many people were magically heating themselves too. The only person that didn't seem to have a problem with the temperature was Tom, he was sitting jumper less at the Slytherin table without hugging his person or trembling, and neither was he casting spells on himself. The heir of Slytherin was eating and reading a small book with a relaxed expression, like it was still any other day of November.

This wasn't the first time she'd seen him appear immune to coldness, either he wasn't warm bloodied or he'd acclimatised from birth, due to the orphanage having poor heating. Had to be the one or the other, could it be the latter? Hermione suddenly noticed his fingers weren't moving, and she knew it meant he was mostly skimming than reading. Without warning Tom looked at her, and she stared back at his emotionless face as she ate. After awhile Susan drew her attention away and if the girl had noticed where her eyes had been, she pretended not to have.

During the morning classes the dark lord and her had worked together without any trouble, he'd told her a few facts here and there but otherwise he'd been quiet. The silence hadn't been uncomfortable or born from anger, it'd been peaceful. Almost like a form of yoga, were though the body moved, the mind was at a blissful state of relaxation while being focused at the same time.

At 12pm Hermione was heading towards the great hall when a house elf appeared in her path, and almost tripping she halted.

"Begging your pardon, Miss Granger" the elf voiced with a guilty expression. "Headmaster is wanting you to have this" it said, holding a leather pouch towards her.

"It's you" Hermione said, creasing her forehead as she took it. "Sibby" she added, to confirm if the elf was the one Tom had summoned.

"You is not knowing me" the creature started to shout as it slapped itself, and she instantly regretted her thoughtlessness.

"Okay I don't" Hermione said, taking a step back while dumping the leather pouch in her bag but nothing changed. "Stop that" she said, raising her voice. Instead things worsened, as the elf started to indicate her with one hand and punch itself with the other, whilst repeating the same words at the top of its lungs. Fuck, damn that creature. The head girl was about to run off when a blonde haired boy and his group blocked her path.

"My, my what an amusing situation" Malfoy said, twirling his ponytail. "Even a house elf thinks you're unworthy of its acquaintance" he added with laughter in his voice, and it was followed by all his boy's laughing.

"It's mad" Hermione said hotly. "Now get out of my way" she added, pointing her wand.

"Get out of my way" Lestrange repeated in a mock girly voice, Hermione shot a spell at him but he managed to dodge it.

"Elf, I think you know this feisty girl" Malfoy said loudly, pointing his finger at her. It took Hermione a second to realise why he'd done that, and her eyes widened as the creature apparated near her.

"No" it shouted, grabbing her leg and the gang of bullies laughed. "You is not knowing me"

"Let go" Hermione shouted, trying to kick it off but its grip was too strong.

"You two know each other" Lestrange said, catching on and his friends laughed.

"You is not knowing me" the house elf yelled, tightening its hold.

"I don't know you" she shouted before attempting to free herself using a spell, and with a click of its fingers it made her wand appear faraway on the floor.

"But I do believe this girl knows you" Malfoy said with a smile, his group dissolved in laughter once more, and as the elf started to pull her leg back and forth with more strength, she tried not to show fear. "Yes, the girl definitely-"

"Stop it or you'll be reported to Dippet" Hermione interrupted in a shouting voice, and she hoped she didn't sound too desperate.

"Forgive me," the aristocrat said with an apologetic look. "I should've considered that you may not be a girl anymore, but a woman now" he finished with an evil smirk, and a chorus of laughter followed.

"Shut up" she yelled, trying to throw a punch at him and he smoothly stepped out of the way.

"But she is a girl" Goyle suddenly said confidently. "And a woman" he added, placing a hand on his head with a confused look.

"Elf, I'm sure this woman knows you" Malfoy said emphasising woman.

"You is not knowing me" the creature shouted, digging its fingers into her leg with force.

"I don't know you" she yelled, trying to mask the pain but her efforts kind of proved futile as her eyes moistened. They all laughed at her again, and Hermione attempted to physically hit them before trying to kick off the elf.

"Release her" a male voice suddenly roared. Everyone froze and the elf immediately let go.

"She was-" the creature started.

"Silence" he yelled. She didn't need to look to know who that was, as her heart rate doubled she almost fell, and she wondered if it was fear or the stinging in her leg. Malfoy and his group tried to silently back away, but the newly arrived boy made ropes appear around their ankles.

"Riddle, it-it was the elf" Malfoy said stuttering, and Hermione finally looked at the dark lord. His expression was saturated with anger and it was frightening. Merlin, this wouldn't end well.

"That thing went crazy, it wasn't us" Lestrange said shakily, trying to covertly cut the ropes with magic. Avery shook his head in support and Goyle was crying like a baby. Suddenly, Lestrange's wand flew out of his hand, Avery jumped, Goyle screamed and the blonde was trying his best not to appear afraid. Stupid Malfoy, if only he hadn't provoked the elf. She stared at him hatefully, the aristocrat caught her eyes and from his expression it was obvious he was blaming her. Yes, he thought it was all her fault. The madness of the elf, the crossing of their paths and now Tom's entrapment.

Suddenly, the heir of Slytherin made the ropes disappear. Before any of the boys could react, Tom made complex movements with his wand and soon the group of Slytherin's were expressionless and glassy eyed. The head girl swallowed and tried her best not to break into a run. Malfoy may've thought the dark lord was fond of her, or that he was carrying out his head boy duties in a twisted way. But she knew this wasn't solely an act of rescue, it was damage control and then there'd be punishment. Hermione wasn't that much of a fool to not know that ultimately it was all her fault, because she'd started it by upsetting the elf, a thoughtless error that would've remained concealed if it wasn't for those sadistic bullies. As Malfoy and his boys got into a straight line the head girl instinctively flinched, she knew Tom could imperius multiple minds simultaneously, but it was still scary to witness such display of power close up.

"Follow" Young Voldemort commanded, as he led the inferi like humans forward. Hermione's heart lurched as she tried to make herself move, and the elf was already walking away like it was imperiused. Breathing fast she desperately searched for her wand, but it was nowhere to be seen. "Now" the dark lord shouted, turning towards her with his wand drawn. Hermione froze before shaking her head to say yes with a fearful expression, and then she forced herself to follow. Her feet felt heavy as she dragged one in front of the other, and if she hadn't been scared she would've felt pain in her left leg.

The head girl didn't know if the journey had been long or quick, as she realised she was stepping inside a dusty, old and abandoned classroom. She jumped when Tom magically slammed the door shut, and her breath caught in her throat as she found his wand pointing at her. "Petrificus totalus" he hissed and before Hermione could say a word she went completely rigid, then she fell to the floor. Her head and back should be hurting but she was too scared care. All her senses were now focused on footsteps that had to be the dark lord's, and realising they were going away from her she took a deep breath. "Obliviate" she suddenly heard Tom say and her heart skipped a beat. Oh God, wait-she could still remember. She heard him say the incantation again and again, and after a few panicked seconds, she realised the imperiused Slytherins must be being made to forget about the elf.

Then there was silence and that was scarier, as she expected to see the dark lord's pointed wand any second now. Suddenly, she heard something that sounded like an old door creaking open, and afterwards there were numerous footsteps. Of course, Tom was making the other Slytherins leave since he'd finished what he'd intended. Soon quietness descended upon the room again, and her mind was beginning to entertain the thought that young Voldemort had left too, when she heard the sound of walking. Maybe it was that fucking elf or some other-. "Speak" she suddenly heard Tom say in a high pitched tone, and her pulse quickened.

"Now master, I is sorry for-" Sibby the elf started shakily.

"Not your feelings, worthless creature" the dark lord interrupted, almost shouting and the elf gasped. "You risked the exposure of our secret" he added in a low angry voice. "When I commanded otherwise" he finally yelled, and the sound of kicking or stamping followed then an inhuman cry.

"Now master, I is protecting it always" Sibby said in a voice saturated with fear.

"By publicly yelling you don't know the head girl" Tom shouted.

"You is said she won't tell. She was-" the elf began with a wavering voice.

"I know, I'm not stupid" the dark lord snapped. "Your reaction could've revealed everything" there was a knocking noise, and then a mouse like squeak from the creature. "Why-how did you go against my command?" he shouted and a whacking sound followed.

"Sibby would never-" the elf started tearfully.

"That's not an answer" Tom said, almost hissing.

"I is not disobeying now master" Sibby voiced in a desperate, high pitched tone. "You is said to keep it secret even upon the pain of death" it added a little defensively.

"Yes and you didn't-" the heir of Slytherin started angrily. "You interpreted that as even causing death to the persons risking exposure" he stated in a voice with a horrified undertone, and Hermione momentarily held her breath as she understood what she'd heard. "Mindless, stupid elf" Tom shouted, and then there was a loud sound before the creature shrieked. "I could've been expelled or put in Azkaban," noise of something heavy being thrown followed, and the elf gasped loudly. "Was it to save yourself or as revenge?" he questioned in a low dangerous voice.

"I live to serve, I is never-" Sibby started in a frightened tone.

"You failed to think logically, you're still at fault" the dark lord interrupted, almost shouting and Hermione couldn't help think that was kind of hypocritical since he'd given the command.

"I is very sorry, now master" Sibby said in a trembling voice, and then it sounded like it was trying to run. "Please, now master" the elf nearly screeched.

"Crucio" Tom voiced coldly, the creature began to scream and Hermione's heart rate increased. The torture using the unforgivable lasted awhile, and each second of it detected by her ears felt like minutes in her mind. "Get up" he suddenly said in a merciless tone, and Sibby's wails and tears seemed to be the only response. "Get up" the dark lord repeated, shouting and soon there was a sound that was similar to when a child kept falling as it attempted to stand, accompanied with the audio of laboured breathing and sobbing. "You will keep our secret, secret" Tom ordered, emphasising secret. "At all costs only to yourself, including the pain of death to yourself only" he added, elongating only. "Are my commands understood, Sibby?" the dark lord asked, with anger creeping into his voice and the elf started to cry harder than ever. "Answer me" he yelled, a second later there was a stamping noise and the creature screamed.

"Yes, now master" Sibby finally replied, tearfully. "I-I under-understand" it added in a weak, stuttering voice.

"Leave" the heir of Slytherin said in an unsympathetic tone, and absolute terror filled Hermione. Oh, God. He'd been so cruel to the elf and it hadn't even started it. What was going to happen to her? A loud cracking sound indicated Sibby's disappearance and her breath caught in her throat.

Without warning, Tom's furious face invaded her vision and she almost had a heart attack. "Finite incantatem" the dark lord hissed, pointing his wand and her terrified mind feared the worst, before realising it wasn't a harmful spell. Soon her body was un-petrified but she remained unmoving, even though it'd provide mere seconds of safety she still wanted it. "Did something happen-" Tom started, in a low voice while bending towards her and she inched back. "-to make you mentally retarded?" he shouted, grabbing her hair and she yelped in pain. "You publicly identified Sibby from an encounter that's meant to be a secret, threatened its loyalty to a master's command" he said in an angry tone, tightening his grip and Hermione gasped. "Given their nature, didn't it occur-" the dark lord loosened his hold. "Your stupidity risked great damage to me" he yelled, capturing her locks with renewed vigour and she let out a cry. "How could you be so dumb?" Tom hissed, pulling at the roots.

"I didn't mean to" Hermione whispered with a fearful expression as her eyes watered.

"What if I hadn't been there? Imperiursing multiple minds, obliviating them all" he continued, like she hadn't said anything. "Do you think it's enjoyable and effortless" the dark lord shouted, shaking her head.

"No, I'm sorry" she said in a wavering voice. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" she repeated twice, in a desperate tone as he pointed his wand while giving her a death glare.

"Crucio" Tom said, releasing her hair and she screamed. The curse was over in seconds, but it was enough to make her tremble all over and cry her eyes out. "Clever and also dim" the dark lord said emotionlessly, placing the tip of his wand on her quivering chin. "How can-" He yanked at her tresses again with his free hand, and she shrieked between sobs. "Did you plan it?" Young Voldemort shouted with a furious expression, and her eyes widened as she temporarily ceased weeping. "Revenge, you were waiting for the perfect opportunity" he said angrily before a blank look plastered on his face.

"That's not true" she said in strangled voice, appearing absolutely terrified. God, he was going to kill her. "I identified the elf without thinking" Hermione added tearfully. "I never meant-"

"Silence" Tom yelled, jabbing his wand into her collar bone and she yelped. "Look at me" he ordered as he pulled up the hand still in her hair, causing her head to rise up a few inches. "Speak" he said in a high pitched voice, looking right into her eyes, and she momentarily stopped breathing as she prepared herself for his legilimency.

"I was going to the great hall" Hermione finally said, sniffing away tears. "The elf appeared unexpectedly with Dippet's monthly allowance" she added, mentally replaying the memory. "Suddenly, I realised I'd seen it before" she focused on how she'd wondered. "Then I just said Sibby without thinking" Hermione said, allowing him to see and feel the truth of her words. "I shouldn't have, it kept shouting and hitting itself" she added, with a regretful expression. "I'm sure it would've stopped if Malfoy hadn't-"

"Quiet" he snapped, removing his hand callously from her hair. Her suddenly unsupported head hit the floor and she suppressed a gasp. "There are no excuses for your stupid, rash behaviour" Tom shouted, punching the floor near her ear and she recoiled in a fright.

"On your feet" he hissed, pointing his wand and her heart lurched. God, he was going to Crucio her again.

"Please n-not ag-again" Hermione stuttered, tearfully but his merciless expression remained.

"Now" he yelled, standing straight before kicking at her elbow, and she whimpered in pain while clutching at it. Then as she forced herself to sit up, the overdue tears leaked onto her cheeks. The second she got on her feet a scream tore from her throat, and Hermione collapsed back onto the floor. "I'm sorry" she whispered, spilling more salty water on her face. It wasn't cruciatus but it still hurt, what had he used? "I'm sorry" she repeated in a desperate, strangled voice as the dark lord took a step towards her. He raised his wand and her instincts told her to run.

"Don't move" Tom shouted as she tried to stand again. He lowered himself to her level with an unreadable expression, and she couldn't stop herself from trembling in fear. "I'm not going to hurt you" he suddenly said in a gentle voice, and she gave him a look of anger and disbelief. Wasn't physical torture enough? He aimed his magical stick towards her lower half and she instinctively flinched. "Stay still" the dark lord said, sounding irritated.

"Hard to do in torture" Hermione said venomously. She hadn't meant to, the fury she'd been feeling had made the words come out. Expecting punishment any second now, she closed her eyes with fear and hate on her face.

"Look at me" he said in a soft voice, and she obeyed feeling more scared than ever. The heir of Slytherin's expression was still blank and even though she tried to stop it, a tear dropped onto her cheek. The unexpected mushiness was to make her feel safe before he did something gruesome, wasn't it? "Imperio" Tom suddenly said, and she only had time to gasp before her mind went blank.

A magical force made her skirt rise above the knee, should she be so calm and unmoving? Of course, there was nothing to fear and so there was no need to move. The black stretchy material encasing her left leg had many small rips, the places where her flesh was exposed were coloured a mixture of red and burgundy. Also, a smudge and spots of crimson liquid surrounded the limb. She was injured, she should-no, it was fine. There was nothing to worry about, all would be well. Suddenly, her sock like clothing began to come apart in the middle, like someone was cutting it with scissors. What was-oh, the boy was doing that with his wand. Who was he? Was he allowed to-shouldn't she stop him from-it was okay. There was no danger, it was best to be silent and still.

Without warning, there was a blue light and Hermione blinked, startled. Her wound, it was slowly disappearing and so was the blood. It was him again, the handsome Slytherin. Hmm, if he was from the house of snakes was healing something she should trust him to-she must relax, no harm would come to her. The green tie wearing male definitely wasn't hurting her but his expression, the beads of sweat on his forehead and the trembling of his wand hand, all indicated he was in pain or discomfort. Using such magic on her must be taxing, oh, it was all her fault. She should stop him, surely there was someone else stronger who could-everything was alright. There was no need for her to be concerned, and nothing more than immobility and quietness was required of her.

It wasn't long before her lower leg looked as good as new, suddenly there was a strange feeling in her head and even though it was impossible, the best she could describe it as was drops of water leaking onto her mind. Ah, that was weird. Oh, it was slipping away, she had to try a little harder and she'd-there. Hermione took a deep breath as she started to remember a few facts about her, things that'd been unknown to her minutes ago. Her eyes fixed onto her exposed knee, and in an instant she knew what she'd thought earlier was a lie, her leg could never be as good as new. At the back a small piece of flesh was missing and it'd never grow back, that was always the case with bodily harm done by serious black magic. She was lucky to have escaped with a tiny dent, and to have it in a place that no one would see unless she wanted them to.

Oh, dear. The boy, her leg was exposed to him. He would see and she didn't want that. She had to cover before he-there was no need to move, she should remain as she was. Why? What she wanted wasn't happening, she didn't want him to know and he might realise. Surely, the thread like scar that extended from the meaty hollow to her knee would give it away. No, no. She had to stop that from happening, she would. She had to move, now. There was no need to be distressed, all would be-there was every reason to be distressed. She should be at peace and everything-there could be no peace until she eliminated the risk of that boy knowing. She had to do something right away, she must. Yes, now was the time to act. She would move, she would hide it.

Using all her strength, Hermione bent her partially uncovered leg towards her and the dark lord gasped, while touching his temples. Suddenly, her mind cleared and her eyes widened as she remembered everything. "Do you how painful such resistance is when you're mentally exhausted?" Tom said, sounding angry as he made a fist with one hand and Hermione was so overcome with feeling victimised and exposed, that she hadn't heard a word. The elf had obviously injured her and she'd fallen because of that, not due to a spell. Tom had healed her to erase evidence that linked her to Sibby, and eventually the elf to him. He'd imperioed her to guarantee obedience but near the end, healing at the same time in his current state had proved too much for him. The weakened hold and her sudden strong will had been enough to break free. Merlin, she had control. The fact snapped her out of her shocked state and obeying the urge to cover, she put a hand over her bare knee. "Surprised you could in a non- threatening-" the dark lord started in a disbelieving tone, while his expression seemed to show a mixture of admiration and hate. "Why?" he questioned, pointing his wand and she instinctively leaned back. "When I healing-" Tom abruptly broke off and as she saw where he was looking, she realised her mistake. Defeating the imperious curse, and then quickly concealing her uncovered leg had made him suspicious.

Fuck, she could be shy, couldn't she? Not with the expression of terror she'd displayed, and faking shyness now would be obvious. Afraid of his intentions then, no. Even with the imperious, all he'd been focused on was healing. He knew that she must know by now how much he disliked touching, and together with his strong reputation of having zero interest in women, meant there wasn't a planet or a time where she could justify that conclusion. Uncomfortable then and fearful of more torture, yes that could work. "The clothing can be repaired in mere seconds" he suddenly stated, in an uneasy tone and she felt relieved that he'd concluded just that. But it was short lived as Hermione realised he was waiting for her to remove her hand, it couldn't be fixed if she didn't and he'd surely notice the, 'follow me to the black magic injury behind', scar if she did. She was doomed, he would know. No, she had to try and stop it.

"I'll do it later" Hermione said, almost whispering.

"Even exhausted, I've never had trouble with basic spells" he said, raising his voice and an insulted look flashed on his face. Oh God, she hadn't meant it like that.

"No, I-" she started in a trembling voice. Tom flicked his wand towards her and before she could react, magic pulled her hand far from her naked knee. For a few seconds she was so mentally shaken she couldn't breathe or move, while the dark lord had gone still. Colour drained from her face as she came to her senses, he'd noticed the unhealed scar and that was as good as him knowing. Tom leaned a little towards her, and she covered the black magic injury with her hands like a reflex reaction before bursting into tears.

"Move your hands" the dark lord said in a low voice, repositioning his wand.

"Please" Hermione almost shouted, shaking her head.

"Granger, I won't" he said, in a louder volume but his tone was soft. Did he mean he won't look? Why should she trust-she didn't. "I won't" Tom repeated, and this time his face had an expression to match his words. She continued to stare at him disbelievingly, he must be acting.

Tom suddenly grabbed her sleeves, she screamed in protest and tried to stop him from pulling her hands away. He easily overpowered her with his physical strength, and she helplessly sobbed as he uncovered her scarred leg. Seconds later, it was covered in cloth and Hermione momentarily froze in disbelief. Then she gingerly touched the repaired material as she blinked and sniffed.

It was real, he hadn't been lying. But mistrust was still in her eyes when she looked up at his unreadable face, this was surely a part of some twisted, pre-planned manipulation game of his. He wanted to somewhat gain her trust only to enjoy her pain when he betrayed her, she wouldn't be tricked by the human looking monster. But she'd gladly act the fool, he had no idea how deep he'd fallen into her deadly game of 'I'm so powerless and weak'. It was costing her dignity and self respect, but in the end it'd cost the dark lord his life. "Use it" Tom suddenly ordered and as her eyes caught a floating handkerchief, she blinked. Then Hermione made herself do as he'd said, the second her face was dry she couldn't help feel small and ashamed. Yes, submissiveness was a part of the act. But she shouldn't have cried just because he'd seen the scar, that'd been true weakness and she should've controlled herself better. Feeling angry at herself Hermione stared at the floor, she was at fault for everything. Her thoughtless errors and oversights had borne bitter fruit, and she had no choice but to endure its taste.

"Not the worst of places to have an un-healable" the heir of Slytherin said after awhile. She didn't visibly react but now even with all her clothing intact, she felt more exposed than ever. After another moment of silence, the cotton square in her hands flew away and Hermione almost looked up. She was more surprised than alarmed, he always left the handkerchief with her so this time why-. The dark lord's shoes and legs, where was-. Oh God, he was behind her. "Imperio" she heard him say when she was about to jump on her feet, and as her mind went blank her eyes became glassy. She had to think about Sibby, everything she knew about Sibby the house elf. She had to recall all the memories she had about that creature, it was important. Some time passed and that was all she did. Then she had the urge to remember more, it wasn't long before she knew how she'd ended up in the position she was now, and what was happening to her. Only she didn't care, it was like thinking about another person. She knew it was her and yet it didn't feel like it. "Obliviate" her ears detected a male voice say, and her world blackened.

Hermione rapidly blinked, finding the light too bright. Merlin, that was better. Seconds later her eyes widened as she took in her surroundings. What was she-? Oh of course, she was on her way to the great hall for lunch. God, stress or tiredness was really getting to her. As she sat in her usual spot at the Ravenclaw table she almost gasped, her left leg was kind of sore. Did she somehow pull a muscle? Maybe or she'd kicked herself during a nightmare she couldn't remember, and was finally feeling the effects. She'd punched a bedside table before while dreaming of death eaters, and it'd taken her hours to realise her hand was hurting. Damn it, even in her sleep she wasn't safe. The head girl grimaced as she put food on her plate, after eating a few mouthfuls she rubbed her left knee but it didn't help.

"Anything you want to tell me?" Susan's voice suddenly said and she almost dropped her fork, startled.

"Why would you say that?" Hermione voiced in an irritated tone while creasing her forehead.

"You seem to be in great discomfort" the girl replied, pointedly looking towards the hand on her leg. "And Tom's staring at you with an expression that I can't understand" she continued, moving her eyes towards the Slytherin table and the head girl's face darkened. "I'm sure I've never seen him look at you like that" Susan added, raising an eyebrow.

"His staring is nothing new" Hermione said, stabbing her plate with cutlery. "Everything else is in your head" she added, giving the girl a nasty look.

"Really" Susan said, elongating the word. "Then why do you keep touching your-"

"Sometimes I hurt myself during nightmares" she interrupted in a louder voice.

"Oh," the girl said with a guilty look. "I really thought you could do with someone to talk to" If she ever needed to it'd never be that crazy bitch. "Sorry" As Hermione continued to eat there was silence between them, and she was glad for it. After awhile she was drinking water when her eyes wandered towards the Slytherins, and she almost dropped the goblet as she found their head boy. Bloody Merlin, Susan wasn't entirely wrong. Coughing, she quickly set down the water carrier and rapidly blinked. Nope, nothing had changed so it wasn't in her head. Tom's blank staring expression was the same and yet different, that was crazy. Fuck, she was losing her-no, the change was in his eyes. They seemed to be filled with concentrated emotion, emotion? Oh God, had she done something to anger him? Hermione took a couple of deep breaths as she racked her brain, but she couldn't think of anything. Then why the hell was he looking at her like that? Suddenly, the dark lord got on his feet and she dropped her knife in fright. "Granger, are you-" Susan started.

"I'm fine" she almost snapped, and as she reached for the fallen cutlery it disappeared with the plate. Really, lunchtime was over already? Heavens, time was moving fast today.

Soon Hermione entered her room with an unhappy expression, and then she sat on her bed. She really wanted to lie down, but she was afraid she'd go straight to sleep and miss the afternoon classes. Pressing her lips together, she momentarily closed her eyes as she ran a hand through her hair, and then Hermione reached down and touched her left leg. Ouch, it was more tender near the bottom. What on earth had she kicked in her sleep, or did she kick herself? The head girl was about to unclothe her leg when her eyes caught her wristwatch, there wasn't enough time but she'd definitely check later. Hermione stood up with a sigh before grabbing her bag, and then she stepped out the door.

Shortly afterwards she sat in the Arithmacy classroom, and though it appeared she was paying attention to professor Dwek, she was actually focused elsewhere. The pain seemed to be getting worse than before, or was she just thinking that? Everyone suddenly started to use their quills and she looked down at the parchment in front, inscribed with texts. Halfway through completing the exercises she put down her writing instrument, for some reason she was exhausted and the runes were starting to look like jibberish. The head girl scrunched her eyes shut before rubbing her temples, when she opened her eyelids a distraught expression plastered on her face. Her parchment, it was gone.

"I have it" the dark lord's voice said, and she almost flinched. But she didn't turn her head towards him, since lunchtime she'd been trying to avoid him completely. Surely, she'd done something to offend him, and she wanted to stay out of his way until he calmed. "You've got them all right" he said, levitating the parchment back to her and she raised her brows with a confused look. But she hadn't finished-it was hers, her name was on top. No, she definitely hadn't-had she? Certainly not, then that meant-why would he-? Hermione swallowed as her pulse quickened, what sort of game was Voldemort trying to bait her into? Or maybe she was finally losing it? She blinked on purpose, but the writing on the parchment remained as it was. The head girl suddenly realised something, and she momentarily stopped breathing. Just now he hadn't sounded angry, had she misinterpreted or-it didn't matter. But there was a high chance he could get mad at her, if he took her silence for rudeness when he'd just spoken to her nicely.

"Oh, I have" Hermione finally said in a rushed voice. "Thank you" she added, glancing at him and then she took a deep breath. Tom had appeared relaxed and so there was nothing to worry about.

In the remaining classes of the day she was able to barely concentrate, and the dark lord had watched her throughout all of them. She was used to him staring but this time it'd been different, as he'd kept his eyes on her too carefully. Tom had only looked away when speaking to a professor or when someone had addressed him, and even during spell castings he'd glanced her way. There wasn't a person that hadn't noticed and at dinner time, she had a feeling that the entire great hall was talking about it.

Hermione glared at her plate and fidgeted with the cutlery. In class all the professors had told her to visit the infirmary later, so everyone must think Tom had been too worried to look away from her. Yeah right, as if he was even capable of caring or feeling concern. The slimy snake was faking it, to show how emphatic he was when it came to an unwell colleague. But had it escaped his fucking notice that she was a girl? Because people were thinking he and her-son of a-. Hermione let go of her knife and fork and it noisily met the table. Whispers around her increased and someone asked if she was okay, but she was too engrossed in her mind to notice. Was Tom bloody doing it on purpose to kill the rumours of him being queer? Would that be so awful as he was the most handsome-she dug her nails into her palms feeling disgusted with herself. Merlin, what the-she was ill and clearly not in her right mind.

Besides, why would he after years feel the need to prove he was straight? And if he really did, he'd pick the prettiest girl at Hogwarts and she sure as hell wasn't. No, he just wanted to fake being a kind hearted person, and he didn't mind rumours of anything else. But she did mind, Hermione looked towards the Slytherin's to find Tom's eyes on her, and she wanted to get up and shout at him to cut the-. Aarrgh, this headache of hers was getting bad. Almost sighing, she shut her eyes before massaging her temples with her palms. Evil Voldemort and his despicable pretend-in order to succeed she had to let him have his way. Merlin's balls, she couldn't wait till he died.

As Hermione set down her hands she opened her eyes, and then she rapidly blinked. God, did he really have to fake that five second look of worry just now? Adding fuel to the fire, huh. The entire Slytherin table, and especially Malfoy were trying to conceal their shocked expressions. "Granger" Susan's voice suddenly said.

"Don't" she said weakly, looking at her.

"It's no secret that you're ill" the girl continued as she sat down. "Did you eat anything?" she added with a worried expression.

"A little"

"Have some more then go to Madam Whittaker" Susan voiced, leaning towards her. "Your temperature's up" she said after touching Hermione's forehead.

"I know" she said, moving away from the girl's hand.

"Were you near anyone with fever?"


"Eat something that could've been-?" the head girl nodded her head to say no. "Infection probably, a cut or-erm-" Susan trailed off, and then put a mock confused expression on her face.

"I can't believe you" Hermione almost hissed before creasing her forehead.

"What? I never said-"

"It's bloody obvious" She said in a low voice. "And no" the head girl added as she got on her feet.

"Wait, I'll come-"

"Still good enough to walk" Hermione interrupted, turning towards the exit. "Thank you for offering"

"Be calm with Xavian" Susan said loudly as she walked away, and the head girl felt like swearing.

After leaving the great hall Hermione made her way to the heads quarters, she'd never intended to go to the hospital wing and being reminded that Xavian was still there, had made it even more unappealing. Her main reason for avoidance was she didn't want to risk being made to stay a day or two, she needed that time to write up essays and the potions project. Her illness, it was surely nothing. What she needed to heal was a good night's sleep, not hours with a recovering, lust crazed Gryffindor and an overprotective healer.

Seconds after she'd entered the heads common room, Tom arrived and Hermione couldn't help feeling panicked. Had he followed her, why?

"Granger" the dark lord said when she was about to turn towards the stairs, and her eyes widened. Oh, God. What had she-? "Dippet told me to give this to you" he added, placing a leather pouch on the table and the head girl visibly relaxed.

"Thank you" she said as she picked it up, while he settled into an armchair and took out a book. Then as she progressed towards the staircase, she could see from the corner of her eyes that he was watching her, instead of reading. Suddenly, she wanted to run and she probably would've, if it wasn't for her bad leg. Blink of an eye later, Longbottom and Bones walked in and she instantly felt safer.

"Granger, are you-" the Gryffindor head girl started.

"I'm fine" she said looking towards Bones.

"You don't look well" Longbottom voiced with a concerned expression.

"It's nothing, I'm just tired" Hermione said putting on a fake smile. "Goodnight both of you"

"Goodnight" Longbottom and Bones said at the same time, as she began to climb up the stairs.

"Granger" Tom called when she was a few steps from her door, and her heart lurched before she forced herself to face him. "You were advised to go to the infirmary" he added, emphasising infirmary and Hermione blinked in disbelief. Fuck, why did he look so-oh, he was acting. Bones and Longbottom hadn't gone into their rooms yet, and he was just trying to show them he cared too.

"I'm feeling better" she lied and his expression momentarily darkened, like he knew she wasn't telling the truth. What the hell was his-she was probably misinterpreting, after all she was really ill.

"Goodnight" the dark lord said emotionlessly, gazing down at his open book.

"Goodnight" she repeated mechanically as she turned back around, and then she walked to her room as fast as she could manage.

Once inside, Hermione quickly shut the door and then she dumped everything on the floor. Soon she came out the bathroom in her nightwear, and as she stumbled towards the bed she wondered how she'd even managed to change. Merlin, she felt worse than before. Everything was aching, she felt dizzy and her left leg seemed heavier. Trying to sit, she almost fell on the bed before lifting up her nightdress, and then she touched her bare legs up and down with a puzzled expression. There was no sign of anything out the ordinary, then what the hell was-? God, her head. Hermione put her hands on her skull before shutting her eyes, afterwards she lay down on the mattress, and pulled the covers up to her neck. Sleep, that was what she needed and everything would get better.

An hour passed with her sighing, moaning, tossing and turning before sleep came to her with great difficulty. It was dark, so black that she couldn't see her hands. Why was darkness everywhere, where was she? Suddenly, there was light and Hermione gasped with a scared expression. Death eaters surrounded her in a circle, their wands were drawn and all escape routes were blocked.

"Avada Kedavra" they all shouted at once and she screamed, as potent beams of deadly green speed towards her.

Hermione's eyes jolted open, and she rapidly blinked while taking deep breaths. It was dark and quiet again, and it was so hot. Was she dead? God, what was-? This was hell or she was dying, because that thing on top was suffocating her. Hermione frantically clawed at it with her hands, and feebly kicked until its lethifold like form fell to the floor. That was better, much better but it was still warm.

Trying to find her wand, she put her hands in her pockets before touching anything she could reach, in the hope of locating it. Merlin, where was-it was happening again, in the afternoon it'd been up her sleeve, when she always kept it in the pocket of her skirt or robes. Whatever this was, it was making her go crazy. She really needed to-to. Fuck, what did she-she needed to find something but what? She didn't know-why couldn't she-. Oh God, the heat was getting worse than before. Sweat was all over her skin and her heart was beating fast. She was lying on something soft with cloth like texture, and that felt damp. This was too much, she had to-to. Cold, she needed coldness. Maybe if she took of some clothes, yes she should remove the top layer of whatever she was wearing.

Hermione sat up with effort, and pulled of the robe covering her nightdress. It helped a little but it wasn't enough. She fanned herself with her hands as she stared at the shadows with a desperate expression, she needed-she had to make it stop. The temperature was too high, she had to somehow cool her-opening a window. Hermione stood up before moaning in agony as pain gripped her left leg, then she stumbled forward with wide eyes and her hands outstretched. Merlin, nothing was clear in this darkness. All of a sudden she felt weaker, a part of her wanted to give up while another part was determined to escape the hellish heat. With each second her fear and frustration grew, as she kept bumping into things or touching what felt like blank walls. Holy Mother-this place could be windowless, Oh God she was trapped-no, surely there was way out. How had she come here? How-erm-she didn't-why didn't she-?

Suddenly, she touched something that felt like a door handle. She grabbed onto it like a lifeline, then she pushed down with all her strength and to her relief a door actually opened. The light was blinding but the cool air was comforting. Wanting more, she shakily stepped outside as she blinked several times. It was better here but why couldn't she see clearly? What was this place that she'd just-oh, God in heaven. She felt so dizzy and it was getting hot again. No, why was it-? She touched her face and then something that felt like a railing. It was her not the environment, so she was either very sick or cursed. The death eaters, she thought with a frightened expression. What had they-they must've imprisoned her, she had to escape. Hermione swayed as she forced her limbs forward with a panicked look, while a tear dropped onto her cheek.

"Don't move, you'll fall" a male voice suddenly said and she froze in fear. Then she tried to run, when her legs lost feeling and a second before she crashed to the floor, magic lifted her into the air. She felt terrified instead of gratitude, the death eater was toying with her and she had to free herself. Hermione tried to find her wand with desperate expression, before discovering that what she was wearing didn't have any pockets. What the-? This didn't make any sense-. Where-? Where what? What didn't-something, it was impor-. Aarrgh, her head. It felt like it was going to explode. She was floating, why was she-? Suddenly, Hermione's feet touched ground. Attempting to run again, she knocked into something hard and let out a cry. "Are you stupid, can't you see there's a-" the person that'd spoken earlier started angrily,

and she looked side to side with a fearful expression while holding out her hands. "You can't see properly" he said, in a voice with a worried undertone. At the same time her headache momentarily worsened, and in her confused state all she heard him say was can't see. Hermione blinked on purpose a few times but her vision remained cloudy. Merlin, she was the one that couldn't-was she-he'd blinded her. Suddenly, it sounded like something heavy was being moved and she jumped. "Sit" the unknown male ordered. Hermione prepared to flee when her legs started to shake badly, and seconds later she fell back onto something soft.

Appearing distressed, she sat up straight. As her eyes detected a hazy figure pointing something at her, Hermione screamed and only for a second did it echo of the walls. She touched her throat feeling more scared than ever, he'd turned her into a mute too. "Calm down" he said, sounding annoyed as he drew closer and preparing to fight for her life, she felt the very opposite of calm. Wandless she was doomed but she would die fighting. The witch balled her hands into fists, and then she threw a punch towards the humanoid with all her strength. "What insanity has-" its voice started angrily. Realising she'd missed, she let out a soundless cry but before fear froze her she attempted again. "It's me," the male said, capturing her wrists with magic. "Don't you recognise my voice?" he added and she burst into tears. She wished she hadn't but her eyes wouldn't obey. Her end was here, and the death eater wanted the satisfaction of her knowing his identity before he killed her. "Granger, it's me Tom Riddle" he said in a louder voice, and Hermione froze before silently screaming in fright. Oh God. It wasn't a death eater, it was Voldemort. The dark lord was speaking again, but all she could hear was her heart racing. Suddenly, she felt like she was on fire and seconds later unconsciousness claimed her.

Hmm, strange this light feeling and her feet felt so-was she floating? As she looked down a gasp escaped her throat, oh God she was. Why or was it normal? Where was she? She didn't know, all she could see was pitch black. Her chin started to quiver as she began to feel afraid, was she trapped or was she meant to be here? Without warning, many voices without bodies started to speak words she couldn't understand. The bushy haired girl looked back and forth with a terrified expression, and as an invisible force gripped her whole body she cried out in fear. It shook her all over and she suddenly felt like she was lying down. A second later, she became aware of a pressure on her lips and realising something was filling her mouth, she began to struggle before forcing her eyes open. "Don't" a masculine voice said while she blinked finding the light hurtful. "Keep drinking" he said in a more urgent tone and feeling more frightened than ever, she tried to spit it out. All of a sudden, she found herself paralysed but she weirdly felt calm about it. Soon, she wasn't against the liquid entering her belly and the more she ingested the calmer she felt.

When she felt the bottle leave her mouth, she reached for it before lowering her hands with a disinterested look. Why had she wanted it? She didn't know, why didn't she? That person watching her, who was he? Who was she? Oh God, she didn't know. Why didn't-she must know-no she didn't. Why-she should relax, everything was fine. Yes, it was. Despite that horrible feeling of-of. She had to get up and do something, it was too-too. "Stay as you are" the handsome boy said, when she was about to raise her upper half. No, why-it wasn't allowed. Was she imprisoned then? She wasn't bound but why did she feel trapped?

Suddenly, the wizard began to conjure something and she watched feeling lost. The end product was something that looked like a blue glowing blanket, and when he threw it over her an alarmed expression plastered on her face. Which quickly changed to show a look of relief, oh God. The material was so wonderfully ice cooling, so that dreadful feeling making her ill and uneasy had been heat. It was all better now though but still she wanted more. She gripped the blanket before rubbing it against her skin, and the effect was bone chilling. Soon she was lost in the sensation, she was about to close her eyes when the temperature became too cold to bear. "That's enough" a voice said as her teeth began to chatter, and she almost jumped before recalling his presence. For some reason she couldn't remember who he was, shouldn't she know? With a wave of his wand, he made the cooling cloth disappear and she suddenly realised her arms were bare. The bushy haired girl hugged herself, yes it was cold but that wasn't the only reason. Something wasn't right, it felt-it felt- everything was alright. Was it really or-? "I-" the dark haired boy started in a low voice, with his gaze on the floor. "You're safe" he stated loudly, looking into her eyes and she stared back at him while shivering. Words of a stranger shouldn't be trusted, then why did every fibre of her being believe him? It was like she knew him but at the same time she didn't know him, an almost tearful expression came over her face. No, how could that be-everything was fine, she should calm down.

Soon the trembling girl felt relaxed, she still couldn't identify the male but that wasn't worrying anymore. However, the horrible feeling affecting her body was. It was so-so cold. Yes, that was it and she somehow had to make it stop. She rubbed her arms, as she leaned into the backrest of the sofa she was lying on. It would get better soon, wouldn't it? Only it wasn't, why? She closed her eyes, wanting to cry and started to vigorously massage her skin.

The male suddenly spoke and her eyelids snapped open. Surely, that was an incantation. It sounded familiar, she couldn't remember what it did, but there was a strong feeling that it wasn't harmful. Still trying to warm herself with her hands, she stared with a curios expression as something flew into his hands. When the tall boy took a step in her direction, her face changed to reflect a cautious look. As he moved even closer, she slowly sat up and couldn't help feel a wave of fear. "I won't hurt you" he said, standing still. Why should she believe-it was okay, she was safe.

Suddenly, the bushy haired girl had an urge to raise her hands. Why did she-she should do it. A second later they were up, the wizard pointed his wand at her and her eyes widened. She wanted to move but her body didn't. God, what was he-everything was fine. She should remain unmoving and be calm. When he started to levitate what he'd summoned earlier towards her, she no longer felt afraid. Soon the item rose above her head, and as it started to descend, her face took on an appearance of child like interest. While it covered her hands, forearms and then her head, the bushy haired girl blinked several times.

After a moment her head was free, and she looked down to find she was wearing it. After obeying a strong urge to lower her hands, she touched the soft material encasing her upper half. It was too big for her, but it was wonderfully insulating against the cold. Her teeth weren't chattering anymore and the shivering had reduced. The dark haired male drew her attention again, as he flicked his wand and when a bubble of warm air formed around her, she couldn't help smile. The icy temperature, it was gone and it was all thanks to him. Whoever he was, he couldn't be dangerous. His face, he was so handsome. If only he'd smile back at her, instead of staring at her expressionlessly.

All of a sudden, her eyelids started to drag down. Feeling scared again, she tried to fight it off and stay awake. She didn't want to go back to the darkness, or that frightening place with disembodied voices. "Relax, it's the deep sleep side effect of the potion" the wizard said, as she tried to open her eyes with her hands.

"No" she said weakly, as her muscles stopped obeying her. "I don't want to go back"

"Most of the time it's dreamless" she heard him say, before she entered the land of unconsciousness once again.

Many hours later, Hermione half opened her eyes as she awoke with a headache, and tried to find the quilt with her hands. Why in Merlin's name did her bed feel so hard? The ceiling, it looked-. She snapped her eyelids far up with a panicked look, before jumping into a sitting position and blinking several times. This was the common room, she'd been sleeping on the sofa. How the hell-, she looked down with a confused appearance that quickly became a horrified expression. Why the fuck was she wearing an oversized jumper with a Slytherin symbol? It smelt just like-oh, God. The witch wanted to scream but all that came out was a shocked gasp. She was in Tom Riddle's-no. She grabbed the woollen fabric and violently pulled at it. Christ, it was real. No, no. Nightmare is what this-. Hermione pinched herself again and again before stilling her fingers with wide eyes. Holy mother-this was reality and she was wearing-. She grabbed fistfuls of her hair with a tearful expression, last night how-what had-.

Suddenly, there was sound near Longbottom and Bones's room, and she leapt to her feet before breaking into a run. Once she'd stepped inside her chamber and shut the door, Hermione put a hand over her heart with a relieved expression. Thank Merlin no one had seen her like that, they would've thought her and the dark lord-.

A sickened expression plastered on her face as her own mind considered the possibility, no surely-. The witch froze as she saw her robe was not so far away from the quilt on the floor, and after a few seconds she pulled of the green jumper. She stared at her body wide eyed, God in heaven-why-? Hermione rushed over to the mirror, and there was no denying she was just in her nightdress. No, she wouldn't-yes she had left in the night dressed like that. She lowered her eyes with a shameful expression, and clutched at her head. Why on earth-she'd never have done it on purpose. Never, ever. Which meant-her eyes filled with tears, and she suddenly found it hard to breathe.

It was all Voldemort's doing, he must've imperiused a girl to get her. Things had been good between them, why would he-what had he done to her? She felt more scared than ever as the question repeated in her mind, whatever it was it couldn't be-. The witch snapped her eyes to the mirror again, before shakily running her hands over her body. Nothing seemed wrong but that didn't mean anything, everything could be healed except-so until she checked-. Hermione crumbled to the ground, and burst into tears. She'd come to believe the dark lord wasn't dangerous like that, she should never have thought-. No, no. Fear was making her overreact, surely Tom wasn't like that. His dislike of touching couldn't have been an act, and she'd never seen lust in his eyes for anyone. She shouldn't jump to wild conclusions without concrete evidence, and she had to remember exactly what'd happened. She tried and all she got was a headache, which made her cry even more. Damn it, she had to bloody calm down.

Hermione forced herself to take deep breaths while drying her face with her hands, then she sat still with her mind blank. After awhile she realised things that she'd missed before. The dark lord always covered his sins flawlessly so he'd never have left her in the common room, especially with his jumper on her. Because that would be as good as him declaring to the world, T.M Riddle was here and T.M Riddle did it. Meaning he wouldn't have done something so terrible to her last night, Hermione released a breath she hadn't realised she was holding. Tears formed in her eyes again but this time in relief, seconds later she instinctively hugged herself. Her mind wasn't completely at ease though, once she remembered-, her fingers became slightly shaky as she suddenly became too afraid to. She momentarily shut her eyes, and then she forced herself to try and recover the missing memories.

After several attempts, bits and pieces of information started to come to her. Yes, she'd been really ill. The death eaters had obviously been a nightmare-erm-. Hermione gasped loudly as she suddenly recalled everything and without the illness to confuse her, all that'd happened was crystal clear. Salty water leaked onto the witch's cheeks once more, thank heavens she was truly unharmed. She'd woken up confused, feverish and kind of blind. She'd somehow made her wand fall from the bedside table, which she could now see lying not so far away. Then she'd taken off her robe and stumbled out the main door.

Tom had been in the common room, not a death eater. He'd prevented her from hurting herself, and he'd healed her with a potion. How had he known what to give her? Actually, it'd be strange if he hadn't known, since he'd proven he was knowledgeable in healing many times. The imperious, Hermione felt a shiver down her spine. She could remember that too, she didn't like the memories of being controlled, even though it'd been more for her own good than his ease to make her obey. But even under the spell of the unforgivable, she'd realised it wasn't right to be dressed like that in front of him, and he'd reassured her by telling her she was safe. He'd also said he wouldn't hurt her, the way he'd lowered his eyes when she'd felt threatened and the tone of his voice, she could remember it all. Thank God the dark lord wasn't some suppressed sexual deviant, like Xavian had once suggested. She wiped her face dry with her hands, and took a couple of deep breaths. She'd been right in her thinking all along, he wasn't like that and he was most likely asexual.

An embarrassed expression plastered on Hermione's face, as she suddenly recalled smiling at Tom after wearing his jumper, and the thoughts she'd had of him being handsome. If only she could be asexual too when she was delirious and disorientated. Well, she'd been out of her mind and it was true that he looked-. Not that she personally found him attractive, Voldemort was a monster.

But why had the lord of evil cared to stop her from getting injured, maybe even falling into a coma or death? Cared, what the-the dark lord did not care about her. If he did any volunteering, helping, healing and acts that appeared kind or selfless, it was always because he had a motive or a gain that'd benefit him. Last night had been no different, he'd obviously seen it as an opportunity to make her believe she mattered to him in some way. That he'd protected her because deep down he wanted her to be safe and well, but he'd really been safe-guarding his own interests. With the Wolfsbane potion and Sectumsempra, she'd tricked him into thinking she was a powerful witch and he wanted her on his side, in order to use her in the future. Tom had said so himself that she had an exquisite mind, but he'd never be able manipulate her or deceive into becoming another Bellatrix Lestrange. He'd probably given her his jumper to add that personal touch that was meant to tug at her heart, evil slimy snake.

Suddenly, a ringing sound filled the air and she jumped. Fuck, it was her alarm clock. After getting to her feet she turned it off before stretching with a yawn, then she picked up her wand and magically tidied her room. The only thing she'd intentionally left on the floor was the green jumper, his jumper. All of a sudden she realised she smelt just like him because of it, and a second later she ran into bathroom.

After awhile, she stepped back into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her. Merlin, this was much better. Even though the cleansing was external she felt clean inside and out, not that she'd been that dirty to begin with. His clothing had been on her, not him. Eww, why had she even thought-? Her face took on an appearance of someone blushing, but Hermione didn't notice.

Once she was dry and dressed in her Ravenclaw uniform, she grabbed her bag before standing in front of the door. She should go out and have some breakfast, only her feet didn't want to move. She didn't feel ready to face him yet, it just felt-. Actually, she didn't know what to label it as but it wasn't a good feeling. Seconds passed with her being still, and then Hermione turned around. She could pretend to be very sick and not attend classes. Yes, that-. Her eyes caught the dark lord's jumper, making her pulse slightly quicken. Hell no, she didn't want to risk being fetched by an imperiused female. Then have him play healer or chef, no way.

With renewed determination, Hermione turned back around. She could do this, she had to but maybe a minute later. It couldn't be worse than dealing with an angry Tom, would he be-? No, surely-she did try to punch him. However, he must've realised she wasn't well. Why else would he have not crucioed her, and given her his jumper? Hermione glanced back at the green woollen clothing with an uneasy expression, should she give it back to him? He couldn't use it so he might've wanted her to keep it, and trying to return it may offend him and make him really angry. Yeesh, not worth the risk. Best to keep it until his death, if he asked for it before he could have it. Hermione flicked her wand at the jumper, and it folded itself before disappearing under her bed. That was loads better, out of sight would have to be as good as out of mind. She faced forward again, she would leave this time without stalling. After a deep breath she mustered the courage to open the door, and stepped outside.

As Hermione ate, she stared at her bowl of cereal with her head down. She didn't want to glance at the dark lord, even by mistake and this was the best way.

"Are you better now? Susan suddenly said and she nodded to say yes. Seconds later, the girl reached for her forehead, causing the head girl to move her skull away with her eyes still downcast.

"Headache" she lied. "Might make it worse" What she'd really hadn't wanted was Susan making her raise her face, then it resulting in the heir of Slytherin catching her eye.

"Oh" Susan said, taking her hand back. "It's most likely escaped your notice, but lover boy's looking at you" the girl said after a few minutes of silence between them, and Hermione tightened the grip on her spoon with an annoyed expression. Before eating another mouthful of cereal, the crazy bitch deserved to be ignored. "Silence, seriously?" Susan said raising her voice. "I know what happened yesterday" the head girl started to cough, almost choking on her food. "Xavian said you never went to the infirmary," the girl added as Hermione cleared her throat, trying to make it look like it'd happen naturally, instead of due to being startled. "Riddle healed you, didn't he?" Susan finished in a sure voice, and the head girl couldn't help feel un- trapped, thank Merlin. Of course no one knew about the jumper except her and its real owner. "Something else happened too" Susan said narrowing her eyes as Hermione drank water a little too fast.

"No" she said loudly, setting down the goblet with more force than necessary. Shit, that was suspiciously too defensive.

"Wow, it happened alright" the girl said, emphasising happened. "Too embarrassed to look him in the eye. That bad, huh" she added in a teasing tone and the head girl wanted to vomit as her words rang true, even though she was implying something completely different.

"Everything you've said is untrue" Hermione said in a forced calm voice, as she looked at Susan with what she hoped was a neutral expression. "There was no healing" the head girl said, emphasising healing. "After dinner yesterday I started to feel better so I went to bed, I woke up completely fine" she easily lied.

"Err-if that's what you say happened" Susan said with a disbelieving look.

"I was looking down because it helped with the headache, not to avoid looking at Riddle" Hermione said in a slightly irritated tone.

"Hmm, okay" the girl voiced, sounding disappointed.

The second Hermione stepped out the great hall she felt free, but it was short lived. As she approached the classroom for charms, her feet felt like they were getting heavier with each step.

"Granger" Tom's voice suddenly said from behind her, and she froze. "The potion must've cured you by now" he stated, as his tall figure stepped forward and she lowered her eyes.

"Yes, thank you" Hermione said in a voice barely above a whisper, after few seconds of uncomfortable silence. "For everything" she added uncertainly when he remained as he was, she couldn't bring herself to say I'm thankful for your jumper too.

"Are you part time stupid or insane?" the dark lord suddenly said in a harsh voice, making her flinch. "You'd rather risk death than face Xavian at the hospital wing," he added, threateningly taking a step towards her and she stumbled back, with a troubled and confused look. What the hell was he-? "You let that worthless excuse for a wizard dictate your actions" Tom said raising his voice before grabbing the strap of her bag, and she jumped. "How could you be so weak?" he questioned in a disgusted tone, and an angry expression formed on her face.

"I don't fear Xavian" Hermione said acidly.

"Look at me when you speak" he said angrily, poking his wand into her chin and suppressing a gasp, she fixed her hate filled eyes on him.

"Death?" she said coldly, giving him a look that said he was a madman. "I had fever" she added, narrowing her eyes and he continued to look as angry as ever. "I didn't want to be imprisoned by Madam Whittaker when sleep could cure it, Xavian had nothing to do with it" she said, stressing the word nothing.

"Certain fevers can kill," the dark lord said, icily. "Is that something you learnt just now? He added in an insulting tone.

"No, I believed it was common fever" Hermione replied in a raised voice.

"So you're a qualified healer who can make that judgement" Tom stated mockingly.

"I didn't come into contact with anything dangerous or anyone sick, so it was logical" Hermione said, creasing her forehead and he removed his wand from her chin, by slowly moving away his hand. "I was ill, I'm entitled to unwise conclusions if my mind was affected" the head girl continued hotly. "God knows if he exists," she said in a sudden low voice. "I thought my quilt was a lethifold," she added with an expression that said she found the truth hard to accept. "My room a prison and you a-an enemy trying to kill me" Tom's face had gone emotionless, and his eyes no longer seemed to be focused on her. As time passed, silence and stillness descended on them. All of a sudden, there was noise of footsteps and chatter, and they both simultaneously seemed to notice, that a Slytherin's hand still held the strap of the head girl's bag. "You're right" the dark lord said a second later as his fingers released her belonging, and she couldn't believe her ears. Tom turned on his heels before continuing forward, like he'd never stopped and she followed with raised brows.

Unless he was forced to act, Tom never said sorry and admitting she was correct was as good as saying it. But why-oh, of course. This must be another trick of his to manipulate her into joining him in the future, so he could use what he thought was a very clever witch to his advantage. No matter what, he'd never fool her. Thank Merlin, he wasn't angry at her anymore. The way the evil snake had acted, anyone else would think he kind of cared about her, when all that concerned him was the future benefits of her being alive and well, and making sure she didn't appear weak, because what dark lord would want a follower that feared mediocre wizards?

Soon Hermione was seated with her charms textbook in front of her, and she was glad to find Tom's eyes weren't on her. Though many students seemed to remember the way he'd stared at her in classes yesterday, as they were sneaking glances of her and whispering. Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, she fixed her gaze on the book and as someone near her coughed before blowing their nose, she found herself thinking of the word sickness. It wasn't long before she started to wonder what'd been wrong with her, because it certainly hadn't been common or average. Before Hermione could think further, Professor Hedger called the class to attention and she reluctantly looked to the front.

After the last class of the day, the Ravenclaw head girl walked towards the head's quarters with a tired expression. Some people had whispered stupid things a little loudly, and the dark lord and her had worked together in silence. But he'd been calm and the quietness seemed it was more because there was nothing important to say, than ignoring her. Overall, it'd been an okay day and she couldn't wait to put her feet up in bed.

"Miss Granger" Dumbledore's voice suddenly said, and she looked over her shoulder to find him behind her.

"Yes professor" she said, turning around.

"Could I see you in my office about a certain matter" he said with a neutral expression and Hermione's heart missed a beat, had Dumbledore discovered something about her plan?

"Of course" she said in a forced calm voice, and as she followed him out the corridor she worked hard to maintain a relaxed appearance.

When she walked into his office she emptied her mind with Occulumency, it was smaller than the one the Dumbledore of her time had occupied, but it kind of resembled it and Fawkes's presence was unchanged. The bird stared at her suspiciously before ruffling its feathers, and Hermione couldn't help feel slightly uneasy.

"He won't attack, I assure you" the auburn haired professor said with a smile. "Please sit" he added, gesturing at the chair across him and she settled into it.

"Would you like a lemon drop" he asked, holding up a dish full of them.

"No thank you, professor"

"How have you found Hogwarts so far?" Dumbledore questioned, setting down the metal holder.

"Challenging, but nothing I can't handle" she said confidently.

"Do you get on well with other students?" he asked with a smile.

"Yes sir" she said returning the smile.

"Have you found our head boy Mr Riddle helpful?" Dumbledore said in a sudden serious tone, and is expression was no longer cheerful.

"He's always been helpful and kind, sir" Hermione lied, while pretending to check the time on her wristwatch.

"Has he?" he said, slightly raising his voice.

"Riddle is eccentric, but all the good things people say about him are true" the head girl said looking up. That wasn't a lie and so Dumbledore's legilimency would do him no good.

"Have you found that to be true?"


"Has he always been good to you?"

"I believe I've already answered that, professor" Hermione said in an impatient tone. He was trying to trick her into revealing a truth, she'd have to be extra careful.

"If you were telling the truth, then yes" he said, with a disapproving look. A few seconds passed in silence as he bore his eyes into her, like he was waiting for her to break down and confess.

"Is that all you wanted to talk to me about, sir?" Hermione said calmly, though her pulse was racing. "Riddle is a perfect head boy" she added, looking right at him. "With all due respect professor, if you had any doubts or suspicions about him, shouldn't you be asking him?"

"I merely wanted to know if you were well and happy" Dumbledore said in a disappointed tone. "You seemed quite fragile when you arrived" he added, giving her a kind look.

"I'm much better now, thank you for your concern, professor" she said, putting a smile on her face.

"What I really wanted to talk to you about, is how you entered Hogwarts" the professor said with a serious expression, and her heart lurched.

"I woke up here, that's all I can tell you" Hermione said, trying to look apologetic.

"Because you don't know" Dumbledore said, raising an eyebrow. "Or because you do know, but you can't or won't tell me" he added in a louder voice, and a fearful expression threatened to take hold of her face.

"Why would I lie?" she said, forcing herself to look slightly angry.

"You tell me" the professor said, emphasising tell me.

"I'm a good person, I'm not Hogwarts's enemy" Hermione voiced a little loudly. His legilimency should tell him her words were true, and it'd reveal nothing of what she was really trying to hide.

"A dark person may believe they're a good person, if they believe what they're doing is good" Dumbledore stated, fixing her with a piercing gaze and her breath quickened as her palms started to sweat. Oh God, did he know? Was he saying her plan to kill Tom was evil, and that she'd made herself believe it was a good thing when it wasn't? Merlin, she wasn't a cold blooded dark witch, she had to make him understand.

"Professor, I'm not-" she started weakly as her heart rate increased a little more.

"Grindelwald claims he's good," the professor interrupted and Hermione blinked confused. "Because he believes his evil intentions are for the greater good" She took a deep breath feeling relieved. Merlin, he didn't know.

"That's not unusual for dark lords" She said emotionlessly, having composed herself. "I assure you, I have no desire to become a dark lady" she added, forcing a smile on her face.

"Only you know that" he said coldly and she almost flinched. Why was he convinced she was evil?

"Sir, what have I done to-?" Hermione started with a questioning expression.

"You said you aren't Hogwarts's enemy," Dumbledore interrupted in an impatient tone. "But are you my enemy?" he added, raising his voice and she creased her brows. What the hell?

"What do you mean, professor?" she said sounding confused.

"Are you my enemy?" he repeated, emphasising enemy.

"No" she answered, shaking her head side to side.

"Have you been sent to kill me?" Dumbledore said in a grave voice, and her heart did a somersault as she blinked several times.

"What?" Hermione said in a shocked voice. "ki-kill you" she added, stuttering.

"Yes, look me in the eye and answer me" the professor commanded with an intimidating expression.

"I haven't been sent by anyone to kill you," she said, looking him right in the eye. "I've never tried to kill you" she added, still holding his gaze. Surely, he'd sense she was telling the truth with his legilimency. He was very wrong, but it was obvious to her now why he'd think that.

"I'm sorry Miss Granger, I must be getting old or very paranoid" Dumbledore said with an apologetic expression, and it felt like a weight had been lifted of her chest. "But surely you can see why I could come to that conclusion" he added in a sudden tired voice.

"Yes professor." Hermione said nodding her head. "My arrival was as much as suspicious as mysterious, and all the assassination attempts started after my presence at Hogwarts" she continued with an understanding expression.
"Still, I shouldn't have almost accused you without evidence" the professor said with a lost look.

"It's alright, sir" the head girl said in a calm tone. "You must be under a lot of stress, in your place I probably would've done the same"

"I must apologise again, Miss Granger" Dumbledore said sounding regretful.
"Its fine professor" Hermione voiced with a smile. "It's your job to make sure dark assassins aren't masquerading as students" she added with slight laughter in her voice.
"I'm glad you can find a positive side to all this" the professor said in a sudden cheery voice before smiling.

"If there's nothing else may I take my leave, sir?" The head girl asked in a more formal tone. "I'm very tired" she added in a lower voice.
"Of course, you are free to go" Dumbledore said with a slight nod of his head.
"Thank you, professor" she said, returning the curt nod before getting to her feet.
"Miss Granger, may I give you some advice" the professor's voice said as she was about to turn the door knob.
"Please continue, sir" Hermione said, turning towards him with a fake relaxed appearance.
"I believe Mr Riddle has an unhealthy interest in dark magic" he started in a serious voice and she took in a sharp intake of breath. "Since you two are very well acquainted," the professor added, raising an eyebrow and her eyes slightly widened. What the-did he also think Tom and her were-? "I would caution you to be on guard," Dumbledore continued, interrupting her thought. "As it's very easy for young people to be seduced by the glamour of evil" he elaborated, emphasising the word seduced and she couldn't help the insulted look on her face. He was the one to talk after he'd been manipulated by Grindelwald in his youth, she wasn't that easy.

"I will keep that in mind, professor" she forced out in what she hoped was a neutral tone.
"I've kept you long enough, you may leave" Dumbledore said in a friendlier voice before giving her a smile, and she briefly made herself return it.
"It was a pleasure, sir" Hermione voiced, slightly dipping her head before opening the door and stepping out.

Seconds later she almost ran towards the heads quarters, she was free but it didn't feel like it. Only when she made it inside her room, did Hermione feel safe. She dumped her bag on the floor, as she fell on her bed with a hand over her heart. It was still beating fast, and she took a couple of deep breaths to try slow it down. God in heaven, that'd been scary. Not unexpected when a wizard like Dumbledore decided to kind of interrogate you, at one point she'd thought he knew of her intention to kill Tom. Thank God he didn't, speaking of the young dark lord. He really was good at facing the transfiguration professor, how on earth did he manage to appear so calm and collected throughout their entire exchange? Even have the strength to show hatred, and sometimes even cleverly say things, that bordered on insulting the auburn haired wizard? Then again, he wasn't normal and probably didn't feel fear like everyone else.
Hermione closed her eyes before slipping under the covers, she'd rest for awhile and then she'd get started on homework after dinner.

After some time she sat up and rubbed her eyes. As she checked the time she cursed, damn it. She'd been so tired she'd fallen asleep for nearly two and half hours, which meant she had about 30 minutes to get the books she'd wanted from the library, without risking detention and there was no time to eat. Well, she wasn't hungry anyway but she did want those texts. It wasn't long before she was rushing out of her room, and 25 minutes later she was walking back towards the heads quarters. Her bag was heavy with the weight of books, and her face had a content expression.

Seconds after she'd stepped through the common room door, she noticed Tom sitting in the green armchair. He'd moved the furniture nearer to the fireplace, and he was staring into the flames. Hermione was about to turn towards the stairs, when the question of what'd caused her sickness last night, came to her mind once again. It was most likely the dark lord knew since he'd healed her, perhaps she should ask. Few blinks of an eye later she hadn't said a word, they just seemed to get stuck in her mouth. Probably wasn't a good idea to disturb him and his strange staring, she should leave while it was peaceful.
"Speak, Granger" Tom suddenly said, and she almost jumped. "Or stop opening and closing your mouth like a fish" he added coldly, and she couldn't help feel embarrassed. Crap, she hadn't realised she was doing that. "It makes you look unintelligent" he added, looking her in the eye with a disapproving expression. Now her cheeks felt strangely hot, and she was sure they were red. Well since he'd invited her to ask after all that, she should.
"If you don't mind answering," Hermione started in a low voice. "What was wrong with me?" she added in a slightly raised volume.
"Something infectious or an allergen, managed to affect your brain and cause high fever" Tom said in a factual tone. Yes, she'd figured as much.
"Is there any way of knowing what specifically caused it?" That was much better than saying, so you don't know what actually made me ill.
"Though I don't what it was," he said, narrowing his eyes like he knew she'd deliberately worded the question like that. "Madam Whittaker may have a way of knowing" he added with a thoughtful look. "But I highly doubt it," he continued, creasing his forehead. "Given the time that'd passed, all trace of the culprit may have left your system"
"Oh" she said with a slightly disappointed expression. "Still, thank you for answering my questions" Hermione added with a grateful look, before turning towards the stairs.
When she had time tomorrow she'd go to Madam Whittaker, would Xavian still be there? On second thought, she should forget about the whole thing. Xavian was an annoyance, not something fearful. Knowing Whittaker, she'd probably overreact and keep her overnight to run tests. Resulting in her losing valuable time, that could've been used on homework and the potions project. That was too much loss and little gain. She was well now, what did it matter what'd actually caused it? Yes, she'd put it out of her mind. A second later, Hermione raised her hand and touched her door handle. "Granger" Tom's voice called when she was about to push it down, and her pulse slightly quickened as she looked towards him. His expression was blank as usual, and so she had no idea of his mood. Surely, she hadn't done anything wrong. "Goodnight" he said, curtly nodding his head and relief washed through her.
"Goodnight, Riddle" she said, also slightly bowing her head. Then she stepped into her room, and set down her bag. Thank Merlin the dark lord hadn't gotten all angry, he must be in a good mood to indulge her questions. Hermione yawned, as she took out the newly borrowed books from her carrier. After a few minutes she was dressed in brand new nightclothes. Thank God, Dippet's elf had brought her more than one set of nightdress and robe, it was like it'd known she'd need it for her sanity.
Oh God, she would not think of yesterday night. No, no. Homework is what she needed to focus on, seconds later she wrote her name on a blank parchment. Then she flipped through the pages of a recently acquired book, she was about to write something when her eyelids dragged down. Suddenly, she jolted awake and realised she'd made a vertical line with her quill. Damn it, she needed to-. Screw it, what she needed was sleep. She was behind anyway, another day wouldn't make a huge difference. Hermione got into bed before blowing out the candles with her wand, and seconds after she put her head on the pillow, she fell asleep.

The next day, Hermione sat in her room in the evening adding finishing touches to her potions project. Today's classes had been much like yesterday's, the noticeable difference had been that the students hadn't been very focused on her and Tom. They'd all most likely had the potions project on their mind, since the submission date was hours away. It'd been a welcome change, in addition to the dark lord's calm behaviour, and Susan's decision to sit with the Gryffindors at lunchtime. After writing a few last words with her quill, the head girl stretched before rubbing her right wrist, and after checking the time, she decided to go down for dinner.

As she ate she looked ahead, and it wasn't long before she locked eyes with Tom. He continued to stare at her without emotion, and she held his gaze. Sometime passed with them just like that, until a humming sound disturbed her, and Hermione snapped her head in its direction, to find Susan was the cause.
"Oh, don't stop because of me" the girl said with a huge smile. "I'm just providing music to go with the silent love scene" she said emphasising love, and Hermione almost flinched.
"You're insane" the head girl said acidly.
"People who see more than the average always get called that" Susan stated, calmly.
"So called seers and mystics always say that" Hermione said with laughter in her voice. "Actually they're saner than you," she added coldly. "Since they believe they're channelling a divine force, and you think you can know everything all by yourself" Hermione continued, giving the girl a nasty look.
"I'm the great Susan Brewer, I don't require help from other forces" she said sarcastically. "It's taking a lot of time, but the longer the wait the better the wine will taste" the girl said raising a goblet, before bowing her head dramatically, and as she drank from it, Hermione glared daggers at her.

Soon the bushy haired witch walked out of the great hall, and finding herself alone in the corridor, she was glad for the peace solitude brought. About a minute later, another set of footsteps sounded in addition to hers and as the figure came closer, she realised it was professor Slughorn.
"Ah, Miss Granger" he said, coming to a standstill, and she paused shortly afterwards. "Since you're in front of me, I think it's best done today than tomorrow" he added with a cheerful expression.
"What is, professor?" Hermione said, feeling a little alarmed.
"O ho, you're not in trouble" he said, clapping his hands. "Come with me, I have something to give you" Slughorn added, walking past her and as she turned before following, she wondered what it was.
After awhile they were inside Horace Slughorn's office, and the professor was opening a locked cupboard. "Someone I know at the ministry was sent to India on one of those diplomatic things" he said, taking out a large cardboard box. "The officials there gifted him lots of things, and he gave some to me" he continued, summoning a medium sized wooden box from within it. "This is clearly meant for a wife or daughter" Slughorn stated. "Since I have neither it'd be a waste to keep them without use, so I'd like you to have it" he said, pushing the woody rectangle towards her.
"That's very kind, professor. But I don't think-" Hermione started with an uncertain expression.
"I insist" Slughorn said, interrupting. "It's just fancy patterned scarves, incense and a few girly trinkets" he added, magically removing the wooden box's lid.
"I see" she said as her eyes confirmed what he'd said. "Still, I don't-"
"I gave something to Mr Riddle" the professor said, cutting in. "And to all my favourite students, you are one of them" he finished with a tone of finality. Well, since he'd given them to others it wouldn't be that weird to accept.
"Oh, erm- thank you, professor" Hermione said, slightly bowing her head.
"I hope that was also a thank you for this" Slughorn said, putting the lid back on the wooden rectangle.
"Yes, sir" the head girl confirmed, picking up the medium box.
"O ho, that's the spirit" the professor said cheerfully. "I've detained you long enough" he added, opening the door. "Goodnight, Miss Granger" Slughorn said with a smile, as he held it open.
"Goodnight, professor" Hermione said, returning the smile and after curtly nodding her head, she stepped outside.
As she walked towards the heads quarters once again, she put Slughorn's gift in her bag, and wondered what the dark lord had gotten. When she entered the common room, she saw Tom was sitting in his armchair and staring towards the fireplace, just like the day before. She felt like asking him what the professor had given him, but knowing it might not be a good idea, she remained silent. Just cause he'd been in a good mood and answered her yesterday, didn't mean he would today. Besides, the question she had now was kind of personal, and more likely to anger him. Hermione readjusted the hold on her bag, and turned towards the stairs.
"Granger" Tom called when she'd gotten to her door, and she looked towards him with a cautious expression. "Goodnight" he said, with his eyes sill on the burning flames.
"Goodnight, Riddle" she said feeling relieved that was all he'd wanted to say, before disappearing into her room. Hermione spent the next 30 minutes finishing of the essay she'd been writing, and then she got ready for bed. As she laid her head on the pillow she yawned, and soon after she'd darkened the room, she fell fast asleep.

Hermione started Thursday feeling well rested but very hungry. That was taken care of after a rather peaceful breakfast, and then it was time to attend classes but today was different than the usual days. Because the potions project was due to be submitted today and most students in their year seemed on edge, with scrolls and quills in their hands. Later in potions, Hermione appeared mildly concerned and Tom looked relaxed. As she and the dark lord carried out the final practical work, to prove the properties of their potion's ingredients and their proposed interactions.

Then they were the first to submit the project, and Slughorn smiled ear to ear when he placed his fingers on it. Like always, the professor's attention, praises and compliments were mostly focused on Tom. And to her surprise, the dark lord actually tried to get credit and recognition from Slughorn for her contributions. But then to Hermione's great annoyance, the professor had the audacity to look shocked and then give them a knowing smile. It was clear that Slughorn thought Tom was doing that because he was sweet on her, and she and the dark lord both appeared highly displeased by it. To make it worse, the professor added a comment about them having more free time together now. With Slughorn's loud voice, everyone in class heard it and when students started sneaking glances of them and whispering, Hermione wished the earth would swallow her up.

When the heir of Slytherin left the room, she could've too but she pretended to look for something in her bag, instead. Then the hours of 11am - 5pm had passed like a normal un-dramatic weekday. Afterwards, she'd walked to her room feeling glad that Tom's calm behaviour had continued, and that the students seemed to have forgotten about them.

Around 6pm Hermione magically cleaned ink of her quill, and rolled up the parchment she'd been writing on. That was enough work on the essay for now, she needed a break. The head girl stretched before getting on her feet, and after taking a few steps around her room, she found she was craving a snack. Something sweet and buttery. Actually, what she really wanted was chocolate chip cookies. Shiv usually sold things around this time, and Dippet's money for this month was entirely unspent. Deciding to go buy some now, she opened the top draw of her dressing table before remembering it wasn't there. After Tom had brought the money to her, she'd put it in her bag and it was still there.

Soon, Hermione was walking towards the Ravenclaw common room with her carrier hanging from her shoulder, and when she arrived at her destination she tried to keep her face emotionless. Shiv usually had a line of customers, now there was only two and the table of goods-well, there was hardly anything on it. It wasn't very long until it was her and Shiv, face to face.

"You may ask, I know you're thinking it" he said with a gloomy expression.
"What happened?" the head girl said, allowing herself to appear concerned.
"Remember that barrel of firewhisky, and other stuff I brought for the Slytherins" she nodded her head to say yes. "After paying Malfoy his money back and the supplier, I made so much loss I didn't have enough to buy new stock"
"I'm so sorry"
"It's not your fault" he said, shaking his head. "It's Xavian's, he refuses to pay anything" Shiv continued, with anger creeping into his voice. "If only my business wasn't illegal" he added, making a fist with his hand. "I've banned him from my shop, best I can do" Shiv said bitterly before forcing a smile.
"No matter what you say, I still feel kind of responsible" Hermione said with an apologetic expression.
"You're not to blame"
"I'm sure the customers will come back in time" she said with a hopeful look, and when Shiv started to laugh she couldn't help think, if he'd been mentally affected by the whole thing.
"I'm sorry, Granger. I haven't gone loony" he said, in between laughter. "You should have been here 30 minutes ago" he continued, taking a deep breath. "I had a room full of customers almost shouting at me for their regular products" he said in a more steady voice. "I'm sorry, I don't know why I found that funny" he added, looking a little embarrassed.
"It's fine, I've done that before under stress" Hermione said with a smile. "Anything I can do to help?"
"I hope you're here to buy cookies," he voiced with a hopeful expression. "They're the only biscuits I have"
"You're in luck" she said, taking her bag of her shoulder. "I'll buy as many as I can"
"You don't have to do that" he said, pushing the box full of cookie packets towards her.
"I insist" she said rummaging in her bag. "I'm sure it's in here" she added after a few seconds.
"Take your time"
"Haven't got the patience anymore" Hermione said drawing her wand. "Accio money" she added, pointing it inside the carrier. Soon the leather pouch and the box Slughorn had given her, flew out with a big swishing noise. Then the coins came out from the pouch and neatly settled in a pile, as the box banged open and turned upside down. All its contents dropped on the floor, expect the foreign currency which floated to join the already piled coins. "I should've said Accio leather pouch" she said with a surprised expression.
"Or Accio British money" Shiv said, eyeing the things on the floor.
"I didn't know I had any other type of money" she said, picking up a gold coin with writing she couldn't read.
"You must know someone rich in India" he said, picking up a white scarf with faint vein like embroidery, that sometimes appeared blue or purple. "Yes, just as I'd thought. This has been weaved with starlight that will glow at night," he said excitedly as he inspected the cloth closer.
"What?" She said with a stunned expression.
"Definitely, only a certain sect of Indian witches and wizards can do that," he said, looking at her. "My family gifted my fiancée a similar one on the day of our engagement" he added with a nostalgic look.
"It must be expensive" she said, having gotten over the shock.
"Very, didn't think Riddle-" Shiv trailed of looking uncomfortable. "Sorry I shouldn't have-"
"Its fine" She said cutting in. "Lots of people think that, Riddle's eccentric behaviour is mostly to blame" she continued, in a tone that said it wasn't a big deal.
"I'm surprised your friends" he said with a relieved expression, and she didn't correct him. The second she said they weren't, he'd think they were a couple so it was better that way. "Riddle's never had a friend before, but except you there's never been anyone who could compete with him" he continued with a thoughtful expression. "Must be nice to finally have someone who can understand all the intelligent stuff he's talking about"
"I guess" Hermione said trying to appear indifferent.
"Wonder why the gossip girls haven't noticed what's happening with you and Malfoy" Shiv said with a smile and her eyes widened.
"Me and Malfoy are not-" she started with a disgusted expression. "Nothing is happening-"
"I didn't mean that seriously" he said, holding up his hands. "I meant, people love to gossip when Riddle stares at you, but why does no one notice when Malfoy stares at you"
"Oh, he has been doing that" she said, feeling glad that he didn't really think her and the blonde wizard were-eww.
"With a rather creepy expression" he said, trying to imitate Malfoy's look, and she couldn't help laugh. "Granger, I really hope you're not having a secret affair with Malfoy" he said with a sudden serious expression.
"I am not having-" she started hotly.
"Because everything that came out from the box is expensive" he said, interrupting. "The only student that could afford all that is Malfoy,"
"It wasn't a student" a shocked expression plastered on Shiv's face, and she wished the earth would swallow her up. "It's nothing like that" she said turning red.

"Sorry, Granger I-" he started with an apologetic expression.

"Someone at the ministry gifted it to Slughorn" she said, interrupting. "He gave it to me because he thought it was cheap stuff that'd be useless to him'"
"Oh," Shiv said with a surprised expression.
"He gave stuff to all his favourite students, including Riddle" she added, before he started to think Slughorn was grooming her with unholy intentions.
"I'm hurt he didn't give something to the only Indian in his class" he said rolling his eyes. "Guess I'm not intelligent enough" he added, with a smile that said, he was slightly annoyed but not as upset as he was vocalising to be.
"I'm sure it's not like that" She said, knowing Shiv was probably right. "So, are they really all expensive?" She said looking at the floor.
"Without a doubt" he said, levitating the fallen items on the table.
"I should return it all"
"You'll offend him, his pride is the most important thing" Shiv said, inspecting a gold bangle. "Slughorn loves to indulge in expensive things, I'm sure he knew. He must've lied about its worth to get you to accept the gift" It's true, Slughorn was a spender and she wouldn't have taken it if she'd known the true value of the contents.
"My God, is that a-" Shiv said, unwrapping red velvet from around something. "It is" he said lifting up something that looked like a musical instrument. "It's a veen flute" he said excitedly. "Haven't seen one in years,"
"Isn't that what the snake charmers use?" Hermione said, stepping closer to him.
"Yes" Shiv said with a disapproving look. "Though the actual music's never charmed the snake," he added, shaking his head. "They can't hear like us. But they can sense pitch and vibrations from the sounds of the outside world" Interesting, she hadn't known that.
"But they really appear hypnotised by the flute" Hermione said, recalling a TV documentary she'd once seen with her mother.
"That's the illusion intended, but they're actually frightened" he said, bringing the musical instrument closer to her. "See these two long pipes" he added, indicating towards the bottom of the veen flute. "When it's pointed in the snake's face with vibrations radiating from it, the creature sees it as an enemy," Shiv said emphasising enemy. "And when the player moves the veen side to side, the snake follows its progress in order to be ready to attack back, the very second the enemy decides to attack"
"Oh, and that gives the appearance that its dancing to the music" Hermione said feeling fascinated, and at the same time sorry for the snakes.
"Yes, sad isn't it" he said, creasing his forehead. "It's said, when they communicate only with each other and parselmouths, their hearing is more rich and sophisticated."
"So their true hearing is locked to just their own species, and parselmouths" the head girl said with a slightly horrified expression.
"Sadly that's the way they were made" he said shaking his head. "Legend has it, that the thing that can really hypnotise them, is a wizard that can sing in parseltongue"
"I've never heard or read that before" she said, creasing her brows.
"It's very rare, and not all wizards that can speak parseltongue have the ability to sing in it" A memory suddenly sparked in Hermione's mind, and she realised Tom could do it. That day in the forbidden forest, his parseltongue had sounded melodious and nothing like Harry's, because he'd been singing. Then when he'd made harsh sounds after the snake's arrival, he must've been speaking parseltongue. Surely, she must be right. "Granger, are okay?" Shiv said with a concerned expression.
"Oh, fine" she said, forcing a smile. He'd obviously noticed her shocked and astonished expression. "Just found that information fascinating"
"Then you'll find the Nagas even more fascinating,"
"Nagas?" she said questioningly.
"They're a type of magical snake, that can shape shift into a beautiful human when they reach adulthood"
"Really, I've never read about them" Hermione said narrowing her eyes.
"Well, they're native to Asia and believed to be extinct, so I doubt western modern writers have the knowledge, or care to release books on them"
"That is unacceptable, it's just not right" she said in a raised voice.
"Wow, didn't know you'd feel that strongly" Shiv said raising an eyebrow.
"Sorry, I get a little strong with my opinions sometimes" Hermione said, appearing a little embarrassed. "Especially, when it concerns books and deprivation of knowledge"
"You should write a book on them after Hogwarts" he said with a smile. "I know a publisher"
"Maybe I will," she said with a serious expression. "I'll have to do an awful lot of research though. Apart from what you said, I know nothing"
"I can tell you a little more," he said, packing up a box of candy. "When the Naga is a human, its heart takes the form of a white glowing crystal, outside its body"
"Outside" Hermione said in a disbelieving tone
"They have to hide it well, because whoever holds the crystal heart, can make that Naga their slave"
"That's terrible"
"They're said to have wondrous magic and strong power. So naturally, dark wizards, dictators and kings wanted to enslave them"
"Leading to their extinction" Hermione said with a sad expression. "But if they were so powerful, how did they-"
"Blackmail" Shiv said, interrupting. "Child Nagas are without power and just like snakes, find them and you can force the parents into servitude."
"Surely, they could've protected them better with their power"
"That's one method, the best one was love"
"Love?" Hermione said, looking at Shiv like he was insane.
"False love" he elaborated."Human form Nagas were tricked by evil wizards or witches"
"Yes, they were powerful" Shiv interrupted with an impatient tone. "But their biggest weakness is music played on the veen"
"What?" Hermione said, looking at the musical instrument that was now lying on the table.
"Any tune would capture its attention, but only a specific melody done after a dark magic ritual, could force the Naga hearing it to go to the player"
"I see"
"As long as the music played, the Naga wouldn't harm anyone or leave the player. It's at this vulnerable time, that a follower makes the Naga drink Aramontia"
"Oh" she said, knowing clearly how it'd go from here.
"When the music stopped, the Naga felt deeply in love with the dark wizard or witch." he continued. "When simply asked to give their hearts, they literally placed it in the hands of their captors."
"That is most terrible"
"No" Shiv said, shaking his head. "I think the most terrible, was when the wizards didn't refresh their armontia, and forced them to bear children" Hermione paled knowing what that meant. "First generation offsprings were said to have inherited a lot of Naga abilities, but it decreased with each successive generation." Shiv said, packing the last of his items except the cookies. "The only recognisable Naga ability that wizards are known to inherit nowadays, is parseltongue" Hermione blinked several times as his words repeated in her head. Merlin, that meant one of Tom's ancestors had been a Naga.

Okay, she wouldn't think on it much now, because it was starting to kind of freak her out. "As ancestors of parselmouths are likely to have been very evil rapists and killer of Nagas, it started the belief that all parselmouths are evil" he said, drawing her attention again. That made much more sense, she'd always wondered why people jumped on the evil only bandwagon with parseltongue. "Of course, in recent times no one really remembers why." Shiv said, neatly putting her stuff from Slughorn back in its box."Only that a parselmouth is evil, and likely to become a dark witch or wizard"
"I've never believed parseltongue always equals evil" Hermione said with a reflective expression, as she thought of Harry.
"Am I right in saying, you try to see best in people before considering the worst" he said with a questioning look.
"You could say that" Hermione voiced with a cautious expression. She kind of did unless there was concrete evidence to say otherwise.
"That's why you can be friends with a Slytherin, you're not screaming the word evil at them all the time" The head girl forced a smile on her lips. That is not how it was, not that she could ever make Shiv understand without sounding totally insane. "Do you mind if I play a little?" he asked, picking up the veen flute again.
"You know how?" Hermione questioned with an amazed expression.
"My fiancée Rhadika loves its music, I learnt to play for her" he said with a slightly dreamy look. "She's a parselmouth" he suddenly whispered, while looking back and forth. "She told me most of the stuff about Nagas, and it didn't take very long for me to realise why she was drawn to the veen's music" Shiv said in his normal voice, and she nodded her head to show she understood. Of course, it was the effect of having a Naga ancestor. "So can I-?"
"Please, I'd love to hear" Hermione said with an eager expression.
Seconds later, wonderful music like she'd never heard before filled the room. The best she could describe it as was, it sounded like something from a cross between a Scottish bag pipe and a flute. Only it was much more beautiful, and after a while she realised it was kind of hypnotic too.
When Shiv finished playing she clapped, and was surprised when more clapping sounds joined. A bunch of first years had quietly settled into a corner of the room, and they all seemed impressed.
"Is that for sale?" One of them asked.
"No, this belongs to the head girl" Shiv said, tapping the veen.
"You can have it" she said lowering her voice, so only Shiv would hear. "It might fetch a good price"
"Thanks, but you should keep it" he said, looking touched by her offer.
"I don't know how to play it, it's of no use to me"
"I can show you" he said, cleaning the musical instrument with a flick of his wand.
"Erm-I don't think I'll be any good" Hermione said with an unsure expression.
"Can you play anything else"
"Only the piano" her mother had wanted her to learn it, and it hadn't taken her long to pick it up.
"Excellent, that means you have an ear for the right pitch, tune and melody."
"Still, I-"
"In music that's the most important" Shiv said, interrupting. "The rest is easy if you just practice"
"Fine, I'll give it a try" Hermione said, taking the veen from him.

"The right side with the holes, is the one you need to play the melody. The other one makes the drone sound" he explained, and she inspected the veen to see only one of the pipes had holes. "The slightly challenging part, is getting the circular breathing right"
"Circular" she said questioningly.
"A technique to keep constant melody without stopping for breath"
"That sounds awfully hard" Hermione said with a hopeless look.
"It's easier than it sounds," he said reassuringly. "Before you start playing, take a deep breath and as your breath runs out puff your cheeks with some air" He made a circle with his hand, and did a rough demonstration. "Then push the residual air from the cheeks into the flute, as you take your next deep breath through the nose" he showed her once again, and her forehead was creased in concentration. "Then you just repeat from step one" Shiv said lowering his hand.
"You're making it sound easier than it is"
"Honestly, it's not that bad" he said, shaking his head. "Randomly play anything on the flute, I'll guide you through the breathing"
"Just promise you won't laugh if I go horribly wrong" Hermione said, positioning the veen near her lips.
"Promise" Shiv said, crossing his fingers.
It took her a few tries to get the breathing right, it wasn't perfect as sometimes there was a seconds pause in producing the music, but she was managing to play it. After Shiv taught her a simple melody, it started to sound a lot better to her ears and worth the effort.

30 minutes later, Hermione was back in her room with her bag filled with small packets of biscuits. She'd brought all the cookies Shiv had intended to sell, and even tried to give away jewellery from Slughorn's box. But he wouldn't accept, not even when she tried to offer it as payment for teaching her the veen. So the best she'd been able to do was spend as much as she could on his biscuits, and promise to do the same next month.
Hermione took out her leather pouch from her pocket, which was still heavy with coin and locked it away in her trunk. Then she grabbed handfuls of cookie packs from her bag, and put them in her bedside drawer. There were still a dozen or so in her bag and she decided to leave them inside. Once she'd settled on her bed, Hermione opened a pack of cookies and started to much on them. God, the taste was heavenly and much missed. Soon after she opened another pack and after she'd satisfied her craving for them, she decided to work more on one of her essays.

After some time, Hermione sat in the great hall with her dinner in front of her. Susan's seat was empty, as the girl had decided to sit with friends at the Gryffindor table, and as usual she'd rejected the offer of joining them. Absence of that crazy girl at meal times almost guaranteed peace, and she'd never pass that up. As Hermione began to chew on another mouthful of food, her eyes wandered before fixing themselves on Tom Riddle. He was reading a book and eating at the same time.

Suddenly, he looked right at her and she couldn't help blink, but she didn't look away. To her this wasn't one of their usual staring moments, even though it appeared so. She'd become comfortable with his eyes being on her for long periods, but now that wasn't true. His gaze felt like it was trapping her, and it also felt kind of threatening.
However, it wasn't due to his behaviour as his eyes and face were emotionless. It was because of recent knowledge she'd learnt of his bloodline, back then she'd been so shocked she'd decided to think about it later. Now with him looking at her, she couldn't stop her mind from forming the conclusions she'd suppressed. Tom hissed and spoke parseltongue when startled or angry, she'd observed that more than once. It'd seemed strange to her since Harry had never reacted like that, and she hadn't been serious when she'd thought there might be snake in him, there obviously was since one of his ancestors had been a Naga serpent.

Hermione's pulse quickened a little and she took in a deep breath. Tom's angry outbursts of snake speech and noises were natural and instinctive. Harry hadn't done that because he didn't have Naga blood, he had parseltongue because of being Voldemort's Horcrux. Oh, God. The dark lord's freaky abilities, they were real, weren't they? And it wasn't just because he was a powerful wizard, he was more.
But Shiv had said parseltongue was the only Naga ability that witches and wizards had nowadays. Then again, he'd said it was because of Naga blood being diluted with each generation. What if two people with Naga blood produced a child? Then it wouldn't exactly be lessened in the offspring and it was most likely in pure bloods. They always married family or other pure bloods to maintain blood purity, but it would also preserve the potency of any Naga blood in their bloodlines.

However, that didn't mean all the abilities would be expressed in a non pure Naga. Without the lucky probability to make it happen so, the magical snake genes would silently pass from generation to generation, and after a very long time the new descendents were very likely to be clueless of their ancestry.

She'd been one of those, magical genes had been silently carried in her parent's bloodline for generations, before being expressed in her by chance, and it'd been very shocking and fascinating at the same time. Something similar must've happened to Tom with the Naga genes, his mother was from strong pureblood families and so when fate chose to express all the Naga in him, he'd had such a strong amount in his blood, that he'd gained abilities that the wizarding world nowadays did not recognise, or even believe. The dark lord himself must be clueless to the origins of his unique gifts. Otherwise, Voldemort would've surely rubbed in the fact he was descended from a Naga, in addition to being Slytherin's heir. Dumbledore must've known, but he probably thought it irrelevant if it wouldn't help him defeat the dark lord. Plus, he probably didn't want to boost Voldemort's ego.
Speaking of ego, Tom was obviously arrogant enough to think his special abilities were due to him being a very powerful wizard. Then again, he didn't have access to information about Nagas and he'd been brought up as a muggle for 11 years, so naturally he'd think it was just the result of him being above the average wizard.
But surely just a 100% witch or wizard couldn't do the strange things he could do. Now that she thought of it, wasn't his extra powers similar to what snakes were capable of doing?
Yes, they were very sensitive when it came to sensing vibrations and if she remembered right, change in heat in their surroundings. That's how Tom must be able to tell if someone was near him, even though they hadn't been visually seen or had moved without making a sound.
Snakes were cold blooded, so his special genes were the real reason why he could tolerate low temperatures. However, that didn't mean he didn't feel coldness. Since Dumbledore's spell had revealed Tom was feeling cold, after he'd falsely told the professor he wasn't wearing a jumper, because he didn't find the environment chilly. But obviously icy conditions didn't affect him as badly as a normal witch or wizard. So far that was two things, there must be more. What else could he do?
Suddenly, there was a sharp clanging sound and Hermione snapped her eyes away from Tom. Before realising she'd dropped her fork, and it didn't take her very long to know why. Her hands were slightly shaky, the cause was obviously psychological as her mind must find the idea of Voldemort with Naga powers extra terrifying. It was, it was very scary.
After momentarily closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and then she told herself to bloody calm down. He was what he was, always had been and it didn't change anything. He still needed to be removed from the world, and she'd just have to be more careful since his freaky abilities were real. Even without the Naga he'd probably be hard to murder, since it wouldn't change his future dark lord status, or stop the fates from favouring him if they wanted to. See, everything was fine and just the same. Hermione picked up her fork and resumed eating, but unlike before she kept her eyes firmly on her plate while chewing at a faster speed.

At 9pm the Ravenclaw head girl patrolled the corridors of Hogwarts. After almost an hour she hadn't found any rule breaking students, and her eyes and ears were no longer as focused as before. Soon Hermione was very bored, and to entertain herself she started paying attention to the pictures on the wall. It wasn't long before she came across the visual of a moving cobra, and she couldn't help but think of Tom.
Especially the Naga in him and the powers that came with it. So far she was convinced he could sense vibrations, heat and tolerate coldness more than an ordinary witch or wizard. But surely that wasn't all the extra powers he had, what could the others be? Singing in parseltongue, yes she already knew that. What else? There must be more, wasn't it almost always linked to what snakes were capable of doing? True, so what more could snakes do that he might be able to do too? Shedding his exterior and gaining a flawless new one was a big no, since she'd witnessed old scars on his body among new ones.
Hermione knitted her brows and pressed her lips into a thin line. Unless he could sprout fangs at will and deliver a poisonous bite, she was out of ideas. Seconds later the head girl moved her feet forward with her eyes still on the wall, and soon the painting of a woman gazing into a crystal ball made her halt. A feeling of dread came over her, as she remembered something from a Muggle TV show she'd watched with her parents. It'd been about the paranormal and ghost hunting, and snakes were mentioned as most likely to have the second sight, and to be able to see ghosts. It'd seemed laughable and staged rubbish at the time, especially when she'd read or heard nothing about it in the wizarding world. But now she couldn't help but wonder if there was some truth in it. Because of course the magical world wouldn't be interested in animals seeing ghosts or anything paranormal, when the lingering dead could be easily seen by witches and wizards, especially with many claiming to be seers or declaring they have the second sight.

So if snakes really could then maybe-. Hermione took a deep breath as her pulse quickened a little, and tried not to go into full blown panic mode. It couldn't be denied though that even though Tom was really intelligent, he appeared to have a strong belief in divination. It should've been illogical and nonsensical to him, but it wasn't. All of it had been to her too, until she was forced to believe there were such things as genuine prophecies and it'd taken very convincing proof.
So if a powerful dark lord like Voldemort felt threatened by a witch's prediction, then he must've been a believer in divination due to flawless evidence, and he would most definitely find it so if it was his own eyes. The head girl stopped blinking, and momentarily held her breath.
The mystical second sight thing, surely Tom didn't-couldn't-oh, God. She had to calm down, he sure as hell couldn't see the future. Otherwise Voldemort would've known everything that was to happen, and would never have suffered even the smallest of failures. Also, the heir of Slytherin would've recognised who she was, and she should've been dead by now.
No, the dark lord couldn't see the future at will. But by some miracle, perhaps he'd been allowed to see one future event, in order to allow his belief and interest in divination to be born. Or it could've happened by him temporarily possessing the second sight, and witnessing something beyond the world of the living. Then Tom's unwavering belief in the mind's eye, and crystal ball visions made sense. And so did Voldemort's fear of the prophecy, and madness to kill Harry Potter at all costs.

Hermione rapidly blinked her eyes, before putting her fingers on her temples, and took in a sharp intake of breath. Fuck, his other Naga power was second sight. Knowing Voldemort's history, it must be almost non-existent but it was still bloody second sight. Her heart lurched, and she suddenly found it hard to breath. Even if it wasn't the future, could Tom always see more above the norm? Like what? She didn't know but it couldn't be good. Or if he'd had that one crucial vision of the future that'd gotten him to believe, what guarantee was there he wouldn't have more? From her history the answer was he wouldn't, but her arrival had changed many things in the past. What if she'd changed it so much that she'd somehow trigged, or indirectly set into motion the cause of him having more visions?
Oh, God in heaven. Hermione slowly inhaled and exhaled. And then more speedily as she recalled all those times she'd seen Tom stare into the flames of the fireplace, were those attempts to divine something in the mind's eye? All his staring, were they attempts to see something more in addition to Legilimency?
Holy mother Mary, he could have a vision of her and it'd be all-. Hermione's body forced her to cough, and she realised she'd been holding her breath. No, no. She was overreacting and she had to relax. Voldemort couldn't see the future and it was highly unlikely Tom would develop the power, just because an unimportant new girl had become his fellow student. He knew nothing so far and he wouldn't, because if he had the power of second sight it was very very weak, if it couldn't warn him of her intention to kill him. So she was safe and all was as before. She shouldn't worry herself about a power that was barely there. Besides, Tom Riddle had always had it and therefore it didn't change the original dangers of her mission. Just made her more aware, which was good because the more you knew about the enemy the better.

For a minute the head girl thought of nothing and aimlessly let her eyes wander, as she allowed her mind to have a break. Then she glanced at her wristwatch and pulled a face. Crap, one hour and thirty minutes left before she could go to bed. Almost yawning, she readjusted the hold on her lit wand and walked further down the corridor.
After awhile, Hermione started to get a strange feeling and she didn't know exactly what it was, only that it was making her very uncomfortable. Suddenly, her eyes caught a closed door and her chest seemed to instantly tighten. What the hell was wrong with her? Wait, there was something about it. It seemed-erm-what was it? The head girl turned the door handle and cautiously stepped into the room. It was dusty and the walls were littered with cobwebs, and some of the furniture was broken.

Hmm, just an old and abandoned classroom, then why was it bothering her so much? It felt like-like, she'd been here before. Yes, déjà vu was exactly what it was. But she hadn't been here before, she was sure. Then why-? No, she definitely-actually, she could've visited the room in her time when it was decorated differently. Of course, and that's why now the place seemed familiar to her. That must be it, had to be. Hermione took a few deep breaths as she unconsciously walked further into the room, and in a couple of seconds she felt much calmer. After checking the time once more, the head girl looked towards the window with a bored expression.

Oh, God. Why was time moving so slowly tonight? For almost a minute she continued to stare at the sky lit by weak moonlight, then she started to fidget with the strap of her bag before looking inside it. Hermione ran her fingers over packs of cookies and some books, then she creased her brows. Crap, none of them were good enough to make it seem like the clock had gotten faster. The snacks would disappear in a minute or two, and she'd already read those texts several times.
Hermione was about to shut the bag when she noticed red velvet near the bottom, and in seconds she remembered what it was wrapped around. Her veen flute, she'd forgotten to put away the box Slughorn had given her, and it must've fallen out. It was perfect to pass the time, soon the bag lay on the floor and the musical instrument was in her hands.
After she'd magically sound proofed the room, Hermione began to play what Shiv had taught her. A few times she had to start from the beginning, then the music started to flow perfectly without any pause or mistakes. As the head girl's eyes fixed onto the sky once more, the silvery moon among the darkness seemed to make the melody haunting. Slowly her senses became mesmerised, and she started to unconsciously improvise the tune in a few places without ruining the hypnotic quality.
The more Hermione listened, the more power it appeared to have in melting away her sense of time and self. It was like she was slowly becoming a part of the flute's wonderful noises, little by little. Suddenly, a gust of wind made the window shake and she blinked several times, as her consciousness crashed back to the cruel world. Still, her fingers did not stop and nor did she pause from breathing into the musical instrument. But it wasn't the same, the trance had been broken. Enough to make her pay attention to the shadows, especially her shadow. Hermione's eyes widened and she abruptly stopped the music, when she realised she had two. How could-? Wait, one seemed-it wasn't hers. She instantly turned around, and let go of the veen with a shocked cry.

It was Tom Riddle and his expression was unreadable. Merlin, oh God. Had her playing summoned him here because of his Naga blood? Surely not, Shiv had said it had to be done as a part of a dark magic ritual. Then why-? He wasn't even meant to be on patrol and he had to have been far away, unless he'd decided to break the rules and-. How on earth had he heard through the sound blocking spell?
Hermione's heart rate doubled as she finally took notice of his pointed wand, before realising it was aimed at the veen which was levitating, instead of being on the ground. But the head girl didn't calm, she couldn't until she knew if Riddle was angry or not. And most importantly, if she was to blame if he was. A minute almost passed with them remaining as they were, while her fear continued to mentally grow.

"It wasn't my intention to startle you" the dark lord suddenly said, and she couldn't help flinch. "Now or before" he added. Once she'd relaxed enough since he wasn't mad at her, a spark of anger ignited in her. He'd said that last bit to insult her, like he didn't know how intimidating he could be. On second thought, his expression and voice hadn't had any negativity directed at her. So he must've been sincere, or was he acting good due to some ulterior motive? He was staring at her again while being perfectly still, what if he was waiting for a reply to what he'd said? Would it be so rude not to? Couldn't he take silence as-better not to risk making him angry.

"Oh," Hermione finally said, and instantly regretted how uncomfortable she'd sounded. "How did-?" she started, attempting a relaxed voice. "-erm-" she added, realising the question might get her crucioed. "-er-" Crap, what should she say?
"I was already inside" Tom voiced, raising an eyebrow.
"Huh" Hermione said with a confused look. "I see" she added, as she suddenly understood he'd answered her unfinished question. Tom had sneaked into the room before she'd cast the sound blocking spell, and so he'd been immune to it.
"Slughorn" he said questioningly as he wrapped his fingers around the veen, and she nodded her head to say yes. "You play very beautifully" Tom added as he inspected the flute, and she momentarily stopped breathing. What the-did he really just say that? "Almost unearthly" he said, looking at her. Merlin, why was he-why did her cheeks feel so hot? Fear? Must be, had to be. "Fortunate, you have the two things to make it so" the dark lord continued, breaking eye contact, and it seemed he'd said that more to himself than her. Suddenly, Hermione couldn't help feel afraid. What things? Was this some evil word game of his? To make her think she possessed a skill he didn't, then the second she showed she believed, he'd punish her for it.
"I don't think I'm very good" the head girl said, shaking her head. "I'm sure you could play it far better" she added, gesturing at the veen.
"No" he said with his eyes still downcast. "You're wrong" he continued in a sudden bitter tone, and she instinctively took a step back. "You have the talent and the soul" Tom said emphasising soul, and hearing the word made her feel more scared than ever. Wizards alone couldn't steal souls, but she couldn't stop herself from thinking just that. "Even if I had the talent, it isn't enough" the dark lord continued, slightly tilting his head. "My soul" he added, looking up. "I think it's lacking when it comes to playing music perfectly" Tom said softly, and Hermione held his gaze without blinking as her heart raced. He must mean the state it's in after creating Horcruxes, why was he telling her? He despised appearing weak so why-? Merlin, it could be a test to see if she knew he'd split his soul.
"For perfect music-" she started in a tone much lower than she'd intended. "-all you need is lots of practice and a good ear" She finished in a slightly raised but rushed voice. "Nothing to do with the soul" Hermione added, putting on a sceptical expression.

Then seconds passed in silence with the heir of Slytherin unresponsive, while her eyes gave into the blinking that was much due. Suddenly, the dark lord started to laugh and her heart lurched.
"Fear not, Granger" he said a little breathlessly. "I won't crucio you for being good at something I'm not" Yeah right, there was no guarantee with Mr psycho.
"If you say so, I don't think I can be better at it than you" There, that was a safe answer and nearly all of her believed it.
"Stop acting like a muggle sceptic" Tom snapped, in an almost shouting voice and she couldn't help flinch as a fearful look plastered on her face. "I'm not a madman when I speak of souls" he continued with a hissing voice, while taking a step towards her and all the hairs on her arms stood up. "Their existence is proven in our world" Tom said emphasising proven as he pointed his wand, and the teen witch's eyes widened. "Dementors, certain mirrors," he continued, raising his voice. "And the damning effects of-" the dark lord lowered his wand hand, before touching the back of it to his forehead as he momentarily closed his eyes, and Hermione wished she was anywhere but here. "You know this" Tom suddenly shouted, poking his wand under her chin and she let out a frightened whimper. "Answer me" he said, pushing the magical stick further into her skin.
"Y-yes, I-I know" the head girl stuttered. "Of course we all have souls" Merlin, should she have said that?
"Do we?" the dark lord said in a cold tone, as his eyes seemed to go stormy. Fuck, what the-? Insanity is what this-. "For some it's barely there" he said, interrupting her thought and she almost jumped. Holy mother Mary, Oh God. Did he suspect-? No, how-? He must be pressing to see if she broke under pressure, or he was trying to drive her insane and find
an excuse to crucio her. Best not to say anything or move, and so for almost a minute Hermione did just that. "To make divine music you have to have the soul," Tom suddenly said, and she couldn't help blink in fear."Just because it comes naturally to you, doesn't mean it does to others" The dark lord took his wand off her, and she realised he'd said that in a much calmer voice. "If it could speak, it'd say I've been given to a person worthy of me" He added, holding out the veen towards her. And Hermione stared at it with an unsure expression for awhile, before taking the flute with a slightly shaky hand. Then she opened her bag and paused, with the veen near its mouth.
"Thank you" the witch said in a rushed voice, realising she was a little late in thanking him for the compliment.
"You're welcome" the musical instrument landed inside her leather carrier, and it was more accidental than intentional.
Unusual, for the dark lord to-. Actually, she was 99% sure he'd never said that to her before after being thanked. So why-? Hermione's eyes widened, as her thought was interrupted by Tom holding something towards her. Was she really seeing-yes, it was a golden apple.
"Slughorn's gift" he said, pulling the fruit back to him. "It actually grows like this in north India" he added, rotating it with his fingertips.
"Grows" Hermione said, not being able to help the slightly shocked look on her face. "I thought those-" Shit, the stories were muggle myths and legends. "-erm-" Mentioning non-magic folks most likely meant crucio, thank God she'd stopped herself. "-that's fascinating" Hopefully he wouldn't figure it out, she thought taking a deep breath.
"I'd say impressive for decorative purposes" Tom voiced after making the fruit motionless. "You're right about the muggles" he said looking at her, and the witch's pulse quickened. "Those stories," the dark lord added while raising an eyebrow. "Are nothing but fiction" Crap, he knew. "If only they were real" the heir of Slytherin said raising his voice, as he looked back at the apple and Hermione worriedly thinned her lips. "How easy it would be" he added, almost whispering and she nearly flinched. "The original authors were very real" Tom said, putting his eyes on her again and she stopped blinking. "They weren't muggles," he voiced, shaking his head side to side, and the head girl stopped herself from gasping. Christ, they must've been muggle sympathisers since they wrote for them. Oh, God. Surely, he would crucio her for-. "Highborn purebloods," the dark lord said, looking away from her again and an appearance of disbelief flashed on her face. "Golden apples belonging to Gods, that'll grant immortality" he continued, almost laughing. "Tales to bait muggles for the adulthood hunt" he added, emphasising muggles and Hermione momentarily stopped breathing.
Professor Bins had said that in ancient times when muggles lived in caves, teenage witches and wizards had to hunt and kill an animal, with magic in a public ritual, in order to be accepted as an adult.
There'd been no mention of muggles, if what Tom was saying was true then-. "Aristocrats always had to have a muggle" he said, interrupting her thought and she tried not to appear horrified. "Though the bait differed, that was almost the same in all countries," If this was true then why had she never-? "Until the practice was outlawed," the dark lord continued in an icy tone, and the head girl blinked a few times. "Keeping books on it or even teaching the tradition was highly disapproved." he added, in a tone that said he disagreed. "Especially at Hogwarts" Ah, that's why it'd escaped her knowledge till now. "Baiting and decoration isn't the only reason this is treasured" Tom said, raising his apple high as he looked at her again. A second later he took a bite out of it, and Hermione felt like rolling her eyes. Obviously the golden apple was loved for being edible, it was a food item after all.
Suddenly, he held the eaten fruit towards her with an expressionless face, and she stared at him dumbfounded before her eyes widened. Was he serious? Did he really want her to eat-to actually eat the apple that he'd just-? Fuck, he did because he hadn't moved. Why the-? Susan had once said he liked her in some way, no that was-? Arrgh, what the fuck was he-? "Have you gone blind?" the dark lord said in a sudden cold tone, and her heart lurched as she blinked. Thinking time over, it was apple or crucio. Wasn't this weirdly biblical, apple was used to-.

Bloody hell, now he looked really angry. Fuck it, she was not getting crucioed. Hermione kept her mind as blank as possible and took great care not to touch him, while she forced herself to take the apple.
With the new weight pressing against her fingers, she was surprised she'd managed under such pressure, before realising the hard part had just begun. The head girl tried to keep her hands steady, as she stared at the glistening white amongst the gold. Did she really have to-how could she when the marks of his teeth were-? Suddenly, the apple became whole again and Hermione almost dropped it in shock. "That's more fascinating than the colour" Tom said with half a smile on his face. Bloody Merlin, it was.
"How, when the laws of-" she started with disbelieving look.
"Not magic, supernatural nature makes the apples like that" he said, crossing his arms. "Therefore the laws don't apply"
"Naturally re-grows" the head girl said, firmly touching the surface of the fruit. "Are they everlasting?" she asked, knitting her brows. "Is that another reason for linking them to rumours of immortality?" Surely even in nature such a thing couldn't exist. Oops, she should've given it more thought before speaking.
"Immortal apples" the dark lord said in a serious tone. Did that mean-? "Yes, they-" Oh God, they actually-. "-don't exist" he added, raising an eyebrow. Hermione blinked in confusion and after a second everything was crystal clear, while the appearance of Tom laughing dominated her vision.
Evil git. He'd done that on purpose, of course he'd find making her feel like a fool funny. She resisted the urge to draw her wand, and settled for flashing a murderous look on her face. Damn psycho, he was still laughing. With his perfect teeth, lips and-err-. Hermione momentarily stopped breathing as she zoned into his hand, that he'd just placed over his mouth, there were gaps between the fingers, and one of them was placed right on his nose. Laughter continued to come from him, but the sound of it was much lower. There were creases on his face in places she'd never seen before, his eyes seemed to almost sparkle and he definitely looked his age. Never had she seen him look like this before, carefree and normal. Right now, he didn't look like a psycho, socio or any kind of evil, just human.
Hermione swallowed and then she thinned her lips. Why-how could he appear-? He was inhuman, she'd witnessed his brutal acts and murders. Yet here he was looking-it wasn't real. It was a brilliant act that looked like it wasn't, but it had to be or was it-arrgh. Fuck, illusion it had to be because he is the dark lord, the one that'd became Voldemort.
The head girl didn't look angry in the slightest anymore, instead she looked very afraid. She'd known he was brilliant at deception but this was too real, like Satan himself had come down to deceive. "I'm not being unkind," Tom suddenly said, sounding displeased and she couldn't help flinch. "Why are you frightened?" he added, taking a step towards her. Too startled to form words, Hermione nodded her head to say no before regretting it. Saying he'd misinterpreted, especially without vocalising it had surely had angered him.
"S-sort of" she stuttered, trying to show he was right after all. "I'm-erm-more worried" she continued, as an excuse came to her. Because she couldn't say his human laughter had frightened him, when she knew he was an evil inhuman.
"Worried" the dark lord said, creasing his forehead. "Do you really except me to believe that?" he added with anger evident in his voice.
"You're not meant to be on patrol" the head girl said, in a rushed voice. "You might get caught cause I made you laugh" she added, making her tone very fearful.
"Worry, concern, care." Tom said, like the words were alien to him. "Liar" he hissed, pointing his wand at her and Hermione's eyes widened as her pulse quickened. She'd meant worried about the situation they'd be in, not that she was worried about him because she cared about him. "You're just afraid I'll blame you" he added, touching her collar bone with his magical stick. Merlin, what the-? Did he want someone to care? Eww, no. Of course she didn't but did he want her to? "Aren't you?" the heir of Slytherin added, slightly tilting his head. Hermione stared at him unblinking, his blank face didn't help on deciding how she should answer. Would her caring be a sign he was succeeding in his twisted game, of imparting knowledge she craved, in an attempt to manipulate and gain power over her? Or would he tell her off for being emotionally weak, and daring to involve him? "Answer me" Tom demanded, pushing his wand against her collar bone.
"Erm-I-" Hermione almost whispered, as she dug her nails into the golden apple without realising. Did she care or didn't she, which one wouldn't make him angry? She didn't know, best to stay in the middle then. "-I am afraid," she said, after mustering up the courage to continue, and his eyes seemed to narrow a little. "Not just though" she added, hoping her uncertainty didn't show. "I'm worried too," Hermione forced out in a low voice, while making herself look at the floor.
Then the bushy haired witch stilled, except for breathing a little fast and squeezing the apple like a stress ball, as she waited for him to react. Suddenly, he took his wand of her and she blinked in response. Then looked up with a feeling of dread that couldn't be helped, but he turned his back to her before she could see his face. As the dark lord continued to remain like that in silence, she resumed fidgeting with an anxious expression, and that changed to a fearful one when her eyes fixed onto the apple. Fuck, its beautiful golden skin was damaged from her nail marks. How could she have not realised she was-oh, God. It would heal or regenerate, right? Then why was the fruit still-? Forget crucio, he'd surely crucify her. A second later the head girl felt like she couldn't breathe, and she almost dropped the apple when it repaired itself without warning. The witch shakily held the fruit closer to her face and ran her fingers over it, just to be sure. Oh, thank God it was real.
Suddenly, Tom turned towards her and her heart lurched, as she froze with a guilty look.
"Have a bite" he said, sounding and appearing calm. Hermione's face went expressionless, did she really hear-? Holy mother- it was her fault. He'd interpreted her holding the apple near her face as a wish to taste it, but why would he-? The dark lord was pleased with what she'd said earlier, so he must see this as rewarding her, and also a chance to manipulate her further to his side.
"Err-" the bushy haired witch started unintelligibly, maybe she could respectfully decline.
"I insist" Tom voiced, using a tone that said it was an order, and Hermione paled as she was thrown back into the nightmare of eating what he'd eaten too.
"Really," she said, putting on a disbelieving look as she tried to stall.
"Would you like it to be otherwise?" the dark lord said with an unreadable expression, as he crossed his arms. Bloody hell, there was no way out without making him angry.
"No" the head girl said in a low voice, placing her eyes on the apple. Damn fate, someone up there was seriously pulling some strings.
Well, she'd decided on it before to avoid getting crucioed, so she should muster up that courage again. After a sharp intake of breath, Hermione pulled the fruit closer to her lips while trying to stop her hands from shaking. One more step and it'd be all over, she just had to sink her teeth into-his mouth had been on it. Eww, arrgh-. No, she couldn't think about that. Besides, the situation was better now, at least it wasn't freshly eaten with teeth marks.
"Have you changed your mind?" Tom said coldly and Hermione nodded her head to say no, then she took a bite out of the apple without further thought. Her taste buds instantly picked up flavours of apple and pear, with an after taste of honey as she chewed with her eyes downwards. Strange, the taste of two different things mixed with what it appeared to be. Not that it wasn't nice, because it was to her. "Is it not to your liking?" he said, making her blink and she realised she'd been looking towards the floor for some time.
"It's different but good" Hermione replied, placing her eyes on his expressionless face.
"I agree" the dark lord said, looking at his wristwatch. "I'm meant to be on patrol today, I changed it" he added with his eyes still on his watch. "The timetable should've updated"
"Oh" Should she feel stupid for thinking he wasn't on patrol earlier, or did he think she was? "I only looked at the timetable once" How was she supposed to know he'd be changing it? No, she wasn't at fault.
"I see" Tom said, looking up and nothing indicated he was blaming her. Shortly afterwards he walked towards the door, and held it open. Suppressing a questioning expression, the head girl moved forward and avoided his direct gaze, as she stepped out of the room.

Soon they were both walking down the corridor, and after turning a corner Hermione glanced at her wristwatch. Not long to go now till 11pm, she'd guessed as much since he'd decided it was time to leave. Suddenly, the question of why he'd held the door open when there were no witnesses, was back in her mind. Good mood? Had to be. Plus, he probably got a kick out of using it to make her cross the threshold, without vocalising the order.

After awhile they arrived at the heads quarters and once inside the common room, Hermione headed towards the stairs on the left. "Granger" Tom called, when she was about to set foot on her staircase. And the bushy haired witch turned towards him with her pulse slightly raised, had she done something wrong? "My apple" he said, raising an eyebrow and a horrified feeling struck her. Did he just fucking call her his apple? Yuck, no. Hermione looked down, hoping her face wasn't red and eyed the golden sphere in her hands. Why had she thought-? Eww-what the hell was wrong with her? He'd obviously meant his gold skinned fruit that was whole again, and still very much in her grasp.
She was tired and confused. yep, that must be it. The head girl drew her wand, and kept her mind calm as she levitated the apple back to him. But even though her head was raised now, the witch avoided directly looking at his eyes. A second after the fruit settled in his hand, she turned and started to climb up the stairs. "Granger" the dark lord called again, as she touched her door handle and she froze. Then after a deep breath, she turned around and almost jumped, when she found him across her and outside his door.
That was fast and she hadn't even heard anything. Then again, that was the norm with him and at least now she knew why. Yikes, Merlin. She was not going to think about those scary-no, no. She took another deep breath as she started to fidget with her hands, and hoped she appeared expressionless, as she made herself gaze at his emotionless face. "Goodnight" Tom suddenly said and her hands stilled. Oh, thank God that's what he'd wanted to do.
Hermione was about to say it back when he took a bite out of the apple, and her eyes slightly widened. The words, they seemed stuck and she couldn't get them out. Not when he was looking right at her, while he chewed on something that might have been in her-gross, no.
It'd re-grown, who's to say the same thing didn't re-materialise? Then wouldn't it be in the initial state and so brand new, or did the current state vanish and piece itself back upon re-appearing, meaning they'd both-yuck, no way.
She had to get away from-crap, she hadn't said goodnight yet. Christ, was that slight annoyance on his face. Yeah, if she left without saying it he would definitely get angry.
"Goodnight" Hermione managed to force out, after making her mind go blank. Afterwards, the witch almost ran into her room, and had to stop herself from slamming the door shut.

Seconds later, she dropped her bag on the floor and put her head in her hands. All her thoughts now free, came crashing back. After a torturous minute of debating with herself, she readied herself for bed with a stressed expression. After sinking into her bed she closed her eyes, but her mind was awake. Arrgh, no. She would not think about that again, it was all a part of keeping the dark lord happy. Which was essential to her kill Voldemort mission, therefore she had to make the sacrifice of dancing like Tom's puppet on strings. Besides, it's not like she'd actually kissed-no, no. No more thoughts on that apple and-erm.
The bushy haired witch sat up, took a few deep breaths and then flipped on her stomach, before resting her head on the pillow again. After awhile of forcing her mind to be blank, she started to get sleepy and eventually became unconscious.

Friday had started with Hermione trying her best not to think about yesterday night, every time she looked at the dark lord. So far the classes of the day had gone by peacefully, with Tom telling her various information throughout the lessons. Now only the last class of the day remained, and she hoped it would be over like the others. Another good thing was Slughorn had cancelled her detention today and Hermione was glad she'd have more time to herself, even though she'd kind of miss hearing the potions professor's gossip.

After skimming through a book in the library, she journeyed towards the Herbology classroom, and soon she was sitting inside at her usual place. No professor was present yet and most students were taking full advantage, by talking loudly. She could overhear the conversation of those close to her, it was mostly about who would be substituting the class today, and when or if Professor Helen Hammer would be coming back. It wasn't long before Hermione started to wonder the same thing about the grandmotherly lecturer, and she couldn't help miss her or worrying a little.
"Did Madam Whittaker tell you anything new?" she asked, turning her head towards Tom while keeping her eyes lowered.
"No" he said, pausing his quill. Then he continued moving his right hand and wondering what he was writing, Hermione narrowed her eyes, but the distance was too great for her to understand a thing.
Suddenly, the door opened and in walked a male she'd never seen before. The room went quiet as he defiantly wasn't a student, since he didn't wear a uniform, and most of his face was covered by the hood of his red velvet cloak. She glanced sideways and noticed, the dark lord's inked feather was no longer moving, and he was sitting up straighter. When Hermione looked back, she saw the mysterious newcomer was taking of leather gloves that were also red. Without warning, he revealed his entire face and nearly all the females burst into whispers, while the male students looked anything but happy. Even she couldn't help feel like all the other girls in class, because he was handsome. He was tall, his cheek bones were high, and he had a strong square jaw. His long black hair could almost rival Malfoy's, his skin was tanned just right, and his stormy grey eyes seemed unearthly.

As he took of his cloak, more whispers from the females filled the room and her eyes widened a little. His black clothes were clearly expensive, and the way they hugged his figure gave away he had a good body. Wow, this guy would so fit Disney's description of prince charming. Plus, she could drool over his appearance without disgust or guilt. Yay, was fate finally cutting her some slack? Who was he though? Surely, he wasn't here to-he didn't look old enough.
"Quiet" the stranger wizard said, raising his hands, and the classroom slowly went silent. "I am your new professor" he said, pointing both of his hands at himself. And whispers filled the room again, while Malfoy was looking him up and down with a sneer. "Professor Herbert Beery" he added in a loud voice, emphasising professor like he was fond of that word, as he bowed dramatically.

What the-? He looked like a boy that'd just graduated, most likely was. How could Dippet-? Surely, it was temporary till Hammer came back? "Now I shall begin today's lesson" Beery continued, after straightening and running a hand through his hair. Hammer should be fine and most likely back next year. Hmm, this boy professor was damn fine. Especially now that his back was on display, as he wrote on the blackboard magically. He started to explain something, but she was so busy admiring and analysing him, that she didn't hear a word.
When the professor asked a question Hermione came back to her senses, and raised her hand along with several other students. No surprise it was mostly girls, and she was sure it was because they wanted to impress him. Actually, she wanted that too. But at the same time, she was doing it to answer questions in class, like she always liked to, in order to show that she was knowledgeable.
He probably wouldn't pick her anyway, it's not like she was drop dead gorgeous. "Yes, miss-er-" the young professor said, trailing off and it took Hermione a few seconds, to realise he was talking to her.
"Granger," she said in a higher pitch tone than she'd intended, as she lowered her hand.
"Miss Granger" Beery voiced, dramatically waving a hand towards her. "The limelight is yours"
"Acidic, the soil has to be acidic" the head girl finally answered, in a slightly rushed voice.
"Bravo" the professor said clapping his hands. "That is correct" Hermione couldn't help give him a smile and soon, she was zoned out again like a typical lustful teenager.

When the class came to an end, she glanced at him while packing and noticed many girls were doing the same. It wasn't long before a few daring ones asked him general questions before heading out, and a part of her wanted to do that too, but the other half was chickening out.
Suddenly, professor Beery started to walk towards her and she almost dropped her bag, as she blinked in disbelief. "You didn't tell me your name" he said in a playful accusing tone, shaking his head.
"I clearly remember saying Miss Granger" the head girl said with a slightly confused look.
"That's just your surname,"
"Oh," she said feeling kind of foolish. She should get it together, people were watching. "It's-er-Maya" thank God she hadn't blurted out her real name.
"Maya," Beery repeated. "The great illusion that's meant to trap us all" he said with a smile, and her lust fuelled high instantly disappeared. That's what she was, a deceiver. "Wonderful name for a girl" Her face turned expressionless and she paled.
Merlin, did he suspect? Wasn't possible, or-she didn't know.
"Thank you" she forced out, realising her response was overdue.
"No need" Beery said, nodding his head.
"Welcome to Hogwarts professor" Hermione voiced, breaking eye contact. She had to get out of here, away from his spying eyes. "Have a good evening" she added in a dismissive tone, as she put her bag on her shoulder. But in her haste she hadn't secured it well, and in seconds the leather carrier dropped to the floor. Beery pointed his wand, intending to pick it up but someone beat him to it.
"It's alright," Tom's voice said, as he stepped forward to show it was him. "Professor" he added, in a tone that made the word professor sound like an insult. "I'm always happy to help my fellow students" he continued, gripping her bag with his hand as he stared at Beery.
"You must be Tom Riddle" the young professor said, trying to appear cool but Hermione could tell he was intimidated.
"I am" the heir of Slytherin said, taking a step towards him and Beery's wand holding hand slightly trembled "Sir," he added, elongating the word. "Congratulations on becoming a Hogwarts professor" he continued, with a smile that seemed more evil than kind. 'Riddle is way hotter than Beery' the Ravenclaw head girl heard one of the remaining girls whisper. 'Duh, yeah. You'd have to be blind not to see that' another one whispered back. Ever since the professor and Tom had been face to face, Hermione had tried her best not to acknowledge that. Now with them still standing there, she could no longer ignore it. The heir of Slytherin was taller, had higher cheekbones and a fearless aura, meaning he was powerful and for reasons that couldn't be explained, power always made a man more sexy. Suddenly, guilt rose up her throat like bile. And the Ravenclaw head girl swallowed, as she told herself it was physical facts that she was picking up on, nothing personal and that she didn't like Tom in that way.
"Thank you, Riddle" Beery finally said looking at his wristwatch, and Hermione was sure he'd done it to break eye contact.
"Professor" the dark lord said, bowing his head before turning on his heels. Then he started to walk towards the door with his hand still holding her bag, and the volume level of the whispers in the room went up. When he wasn't in the room anymore, many thought it was ok not to whisper and she wanted to scream.
"Ah, I see" the professor said, looking relived before giving her a knowing smile. "He's the jealous type" Beery added, and she couldn't help her eyes from widening. No, no. They'd all gotten it wrong. That was power play not jealousy, but who'd believe?
"We're just good colleagues," Hermione said louder than necessary, hoping everyone heard. "He's helping me carry my heavy bag. I've asked him many times before, I requested him to do it earlier." she added, hoping she appeared like it was no big deal.
"Ah, so it's like that" the young professor said, dramatically putting on his red cloak before giving her a mischievous smile. Hermione stretched her lips to return a frosty one, and then she sped out the room.

As she walked down the corridor, a mixture of thoughts and feelings hit her. Had she angered the dark lord? Why had be taken her bag? Was that his way of ordering her to follow after him, why when she'd most likely be going to the heads quarters too? He could have vocalised-had he done it to cut her interaction with Beery short?
A strange feeling bubbled up in her stomach and spread to her chest. Why should he care-no. Why would it bother him? Because he didn't like Herbert Beery, didn't think he was worthy enough to be a Hogwarts professor. And when he'd started talking to her in a way that teenagers usually did, it must've annoyed the dark lord greatly, and her bag dropping had given Tom the opportunity to intimidate the professor. Yes, that's what it was. He'd done it to put fear in the young professor, and to let Beery know that he had no respect for him. Taking her bag must be a part of it too, it was a little extreme but why else would he-surely she hadn't done anything to-? Damn it, it was her admiration of the professor. He'd witnessed the way she'd stared at Beery, and how she'd responded to him. Tom was mad at her, wasn't he? Thought she was weak for turning into mush for someone unworthy, and had taken her bag to force her to follow immediately, so that she didn't stay and disgrace herself further.

Bloody hell, why couldn't his asexual mind understand that Beery's look and body had captured her interest, not his mind? Only Tom's genius mind was capable of bewitching her, he also had first prize in the appearances department. Hermione took a deep breath, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Facts, just facts. Not that she cared for his looks or-erm-. Arrgh, no. Evil, psycho dark lord and his controlling-even if she had found Beery's mind loveable, what right did he have to dictate her personal life?
Urrgh, just cause he thought she was powerful and maybe of use in the future, didn't mean he owned her. Could he be jealous of-yuck, what was she thinking? Tom did not like her like that, he was a freak that-even if he did like her in that way, why would he be jealous of someone inferior to him in intellect and looks? Merlin, eeww. The dark lord was not interested in her in that way, with him it was all about power and winning. That's it, the other reason. Even if Beery was a loser compared to him, if she gave Beery importance it made Tom feel like he had less power over her. To him she was like an object he owned, and he didn't want to share with anyone.

Christ, until she killed him she'd have to remain as he's shiny new toy. Let him control her life, act less powerful and be submissive. Bloody hell, she couldn't wait to kill him. Hermione smiled while turning into a corridor, as she pictured killing him and getting away with it.
After awhile she cautiously stepped into the heads common room, and her heart started to beat faster as she laid eyes on Tom.
He was looking at the wristwatch on his left hand, and holding her bag with his right hand.
"Took you longer to arrive then expected" the dark lord said, with his eyes still downcast and she instinctively touched her wand. "The child professor must've detained you further" he added, emphasising child as he looked up and she almost flinched. What was she supposed to say or do, what was right? She didn't know, nothing then. He took a few steps towards her, and she did her best to stay still, when every fibre of her being wanted to run. "Your bag" Tom suddenly said, holding it towards her and she took it with a shaky hand.
"Thank you" Hermione said in a voice barely above a whisper, as she realised she hadn't thanked him. He turned his back to her and started to speed towards the stairs. The head girl took a few deep breaths, and then she started to do the same.
"Your welcome" she heard the dark lord say when she arrived at her door, and she looked to her left with a disbelieving expression. But her eyes didn't find him as he'd already disappeared into his room, and all she heard was his door clicking shut. Soon after Hermione walked into her chamber with slightly confused expression, and dumped her bag on the floor. Was everything now okay between her and the dark lord, or was he still pissed off about Beery? Must be the latter, because he'd delayed saying you're welcome but he did say it.

The bushy haired witch sat on her bed, before drinking from a conjured water filled goblet, and then she ran a hand through her hair. It was all her fault, wasn't it? She shouldn't have given Beery so much attention, or at least she should've been discreet about it. Things had been good between her and the dark lord, and now-why had she been so-. The head girl placed a hand on her chest, what was that she was feeling? Merlin, holy mother-was she seriously feeling guilty for-no, no. Hermione knitted her brows and stood up. It was not wrong for her to admire Beery, there would be no guilt because Tom and her were not-never would-. It wasn't a crime for her to want the handsome professor, then why did she feel-? She felt bad for putting her mission kill Voldemort at risk, because keeping Tom happy was important, in order to deceive him and achieve her goal. Yes, yes. That is what it was and nothing more.
Hours later, the Ravenclaw head girl was in the heads common room and she'd just come from the great hall. The entire time she'd been there having dinner she hadn't looked towards Tom, and as usual Susan had noticed before mentioning it. Now, she just wanted to get to her room without meeting him. After Hermione got to her door she smiled and pushed the handle down.
"Goodnight" a voice suddenly said, making her jump. She looked in the direction it'd come from, and the sound of a door slamming shut was heard, but she couldn't see any one.
Hermione took a deep breath, then she crossed the threshold and entered her chamber. Before placing a hand over her heart and momentarily closing her eyes. Merlin, that'd definitely been Tom's voice. So he was annoyed with her but not angry, cause he'd said goodnight but he'd cleverly rejected her goodnight in return. That was good, right? Oh, God. Her head was hurting, fact is he wasn't angry so everything else would hopefully be alright in the morning. After awhile the head girl got ready for bed, and once the feeling of restlessness passed she drifted off to sleep.

Hermione's Saturday morning and afternoon was mostly spent reading in her room. She'd avoided looking at Tom during breakfast and lunch, in case he was still upset with her and she hadn't wanted to risk making it worse.
Dinner time at the great hall gave her a mild headache, mainly due to Susan's questions and Hermione was glad to leave, when she stepped out the door. The bushy haired witch was near the head's common room entrance, when a swishing sound and a light breeze made her look up.
"Remember me, I certainly remember you" Hogwarts's resident poltergeist said, pointing at himself.
"I know you're Peeves" Hermione replied with a slightly concerned expression, as she noticed he was grasping a vase of flowers. "Please leave me alone" she added, while discretely drawing her wand.
"Of course" the spirit said before smiling widely. "But first, repayment" Peeves continued in an almost shouting voice as he let go of the vase. And like a reflex reaction, she pointed her wand and made it disappear before it could hit her. But to her shock, water that seemed to come from nowhere splashed onto her face and hair. As she rapidly blinked with an angry expression, Peeves's laughter filled her ears and it took her seconds to realise her mistake. Water had been inside the bloody flower vase and in her rush to protect herself, she'd only vanished what her eyes could see, when she should've intended to de-materialise every part of her target. Hermione repositioned her wand with a murderous expression but before she had any chance to do magic, Peeves disappeared through the wall while screaming at the top of his lungs.
What the-? Suddenly, she heard footsteps and she knew who was behind her without looking. An embarrassed expression plastered on her face and she tried to enter the common room before him, but with his long legs Tom easily overtook her. Then to make things worse, he held the door open for her and trying to ignore Persephone and Hades's whispered conversation, Hermione reluctantly walked inside. In seconds he was in front of her and while fidgeting with her hands, she looked at anything but him.
"You're lucky that wasn't an actual deadly foe throwing dark objects" the dark lord said, sounding disappointed and annoyed at the same time. Should she remain quiet or-? Christ, he was waiting for her to speak as he was staring at her without having moved an inch.
"I know, that was stupid" Hermione finally said in a low voice.
"You're not stupid, your actions should reflect that" the heir of Slytherin said, taking a few steps towards her. Did he really just say-manipulative psycho, of course anything nice was all a part of his act. It still made her feel good though, especially knowing he considered her important enough to manipulate to his side, however messed up that sounded. Besides, she'd never give up killing Voldemort for anything, so why not indulge in some harmless fun of feeding your ego?
"Thank you for believing so" the bushy haired witch said, putting on a humble expression. Should she have said that? Of course, it was important to show him she was grateful to be even in his shadow, and could never be a threat to him.
Suddenly, Tom held out a handkerchief towards her and she recalled her face was still wet.
"Thank you" Hermione said, grasping the free end of the rectangular cloth and he immediately let go. As she patted her face dry, she had an urge to sneeze and soon she did.
"You're welcome" the dark lord said, flicking his wand at her. And she took a step back and blinked startled, as a warm breeze blew through her hair and left it completely dry.
"Thank you" she said again, touching her head.
"You're welcome" he said, once more. "And goodnight" Tom added as he put away his magical stick.
"Goodnight" Hermione said in return, feeling like a weight had been lifted of her chest. The dark lord curtly nodded his head before turning towards the stairs, and soon he disappeared into his room. Shortly afterwards, she entered her chamber and sat on her bed.
As she recalled the memory of her and the heir of Slytherin earlier, she smiled. Thank God, he'd gotten over yesterday for sure and everything was good between them again. Which meant less stress and she was on the right track.
After awhile Hermione stood up, and realised Tom's handkerchief was still in her hands. She opened her dressing table draw, and after dumping the cloth inside her good mood vanished. Her face slowly took on a horrified expression, as she continued to stare at the tiny symbol that'd revealed itself to be on the handkerchief. Embroidered in black was a skull with a snake coming out of its mouth, and underneath it in green thread was the initials T.R. That was unmistakably the dark mark, Voldemort's mark.

When the shock wore off Hermione shut the draw with more force than necessary, and took a few deep breaths. Merlin, she had to calm down. It's not like she'd just found out he was Voldemort. Still, seeing that thing triggered unpleasant memories. And she would not go down the dark paths of memory lane. No, no. The head girl took some more long breaths before running a hand through her hair, and then she made a face. Her hair, it faintly stunk. Water from the vase must've been old, uh yuck. At least the odour hadn't been strong, otherwise it would've been double embarrassing in front of Tom. Crap, she would not think of Voldemort and that-no,no.
After she'd showered and changed, Hermione got into bed and emptied her mind. The dreamless sleep potion didn't work like it used to, Occulumency however did provide a period of calm. And if today was meant to be a night of nightmares, then the calm before the storm. Eventually, the bushy haired witch closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Hermione's Sunday morning was mostly spent doing homework, and she'd avoided looking at Tom during lunchtime. The sight of the dark mark on his handkerchief was still in her head, and she didn't feel ready to face him yet. Hopefully, he wouldn't think she was doing it on purpose.
1pm till 4.30 pm the bushy haired witch relaxed in her room, as she read the Horcrux book lying on her stomach, while munching on chocolate chip cookies. She was about to start another chapter when she got an owl from Tom, informing her that there was a heads meeting at 5pm in their common room.
Crap, why did it have to be so soon? She didn't want to go, she wanted to read more. There was no choice though unless she wanted to anger the dark lord, which meant she had to get up and ready herself.

When Hermione arrived for the heads meeting, she found 3 pairs of eyes looking at her. They'd all arrived early and now she wished she had too, so that all eyes weren't literally on her. Trying not to appear uncomfortable, she passed Longbottom and Bones who where sat facing each other, and the only vacant seat was opposite Tom. As she settled into it she kept her eyes on her notebook, and then she took a deep breath. It couldn't be avoided any longer, she had to get over it and look at him.
After a few seconds, Hermione did just that and found the dark lord staring right at her. His expression was unreadable but from the way he was fidgeting with the quill in his hands, it seemed like he was kind of annoyed.
"I've asked you all here today, to discuss preparations for the Christmas ball" Tom said with his eyes still on her.
As the meeting progressed it stayed that way, and the only time he looked away was when he directly addressed someone else. The second Hermione was free to leave she was on her feet, but she didn't get to escape to her room like she'd intended. Because the dark lord was blocking her path by standing at the foot of her staircase, and she tried not to look intimidated as she waited for him to move. "Are your head girl duties becoming too much of a burden to bear, in addition to your studies?" the dark lord suddenly asked.
"No" she answered with a questioning expression. What did he really want to know? Merlin, it was her earlier behaviour of avoiding him. He was asking what the hell was up with her, and what had he done to deserve it. "I apologise for being a little withdrawn at the meeting," Hermione said to show she hadn't meant to avoid him. "I've been very stressed and my headaches have made it worse" Hopefully that'd let him know the fault was hers, and it wasn't anything he'd done.
"Insomnia" Tom said questioningly, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes" she confirmed, putting on a sad expression. Perfect excuse and it wasn't entirely untrue.
"I see" the dark lord said as he lowered his gaze, and then he turned before advancing towards his room. Hermione suddenly realised that Longbottom and Bones had been watching her and Tom, as they'd just quickly looked away. Now they were engaged in a whispered conversation, pretending like they had eyes for no one else but themselves. Merlin, nothing was secretly going on between her and-ugh, why did no one believe?

As Hermione made her way to her door she felt uneasy, and only when she was inside her room did she feel calm. Those damn stupid teenagers, they had no right to make her feel ashamed when they were indulging in-no, she was not ashamed of-. What shame? She hadn't done anything of that nature with-aarrgh, no. Disgust and annoyance is what she must've felt, not ashamed. Yes, yes and now she would put it out of her mind.

Hours later, Hermione's belly was full with dinner and she was in a relaxed mood. She hadn't avoided eye contact with the dark lord whilst eating, and he'd appeared calm. Everything was good between them, and everything else in general too. The bushy haired witch wanted to hold onto that perfection, hit the crispy cotton sheets of her bed and fall into dreamless slumber. But once again fate was screwing her over because she was on patrol tonight, and she'd have to fight her desire to sleep for a few hours more.

Soon the bushy haired witch was walking down one of the many corridors of Hogwarts, with a tired expression while her wand lit the way. Merlin, she really wanted to close her eyes and lie down. Sleep was preferred but if it didn't come, just resting would be nice. God, if only time would move faster.
As the Ravenclaw head girl turned into another corridor, she looked at her wristwatch and made a face. Damn it, it still wasn't time to go yet. Out of boredom Hermione started to look at the paintings on the wall, something she ended up doing often on patrols.

Suddenly, a painting of a woman holding a bunch of roses drew her attention. The female was lavishly dressed and proceeded to sing, which seemed to cause the flowers to die. Then the roses restored themselves before the same thing caused them to perish again, Hermione didn't know why it was funny but she found herself smiling. The woman cursed at her once she noticed and the head girl speedily walked away, almost laughing.
Shortly afterwards she was bored again and with roses and singing lingering in her mind, she suddenly found herself thinking of a nursery rhyme from her childhood. As the witch entered another empty and silent corridor, she started to absent-mindedly whisper the rhyme. With passing time Hermione got so brave and confident, that she felt comfortable enough to start singing it at a low volume. Suddenly, something poked her in the shoulder from behind. As she spun around with a startled expression her wand hit another stick, and she jumped back in fright when she saw who was holding it.
"Singing on patrol" Tom Riddle said, pointing his lit wand in her face.
"Sorry, I-" Hermione started in a low voice, rapidly blinking.
"Others have done worse" he interrupted in a careless tone, as he lowered his magical stick. Alarm bells of caution went off in her mind, was it an act? "Dippet isn't here, nor are any Professors" the dark lord added, raising his eyebrows. So he really wasn't angry and she wasn't in trouble, right?
"Thank you, that's reassuring" Hermione forced out, in case her unresponsiveness offended him.
"Is it?" Tom said raising his voice as he took a step forward, and her heart lurched in fear. He stilled and stared into her eyes, and she stared back while breathing a little fast. What exactly was he asking, was she supposed to give an answer? Maybe.
After a few more tense seconds Hermione built up her courage, and nodded her head to say yes. "You were singing a muggle rhyme" the dark lord said in a sudden icy voice, as he took another step towards her and she paled. Oh God, why had she-she should've remembered he was on patrol too. "I didn't mean to" Hermione started shakily. "I saw a painting with roses, I was bored, it just-" "That's enough" Tom interrupted, raising his wand and she stilled with her heart racing. Without warning, he pressed the stick across her cheek, and she couldn't help whimper in fear. Merlin, he was going to crucio her. The bushy haired witch tightened the grip on her wand, as her eyes watered due to the light from his. Seconds later his stick went dark, like he'd just noticed the effect it was having on her, and shaky light from her wand now mainly illuminated them.

Yes, she was scared but she hated the way it was obvious now. The lighting wouldn't be like that if her wand hand was still and as much as she wanted to, she fucking couldn't control it. "Your singing-" Tom started as he slid his wand down to the edge of her lips, and she almost dropped her stick in shock. "-about dying muggles." he finished, lightly pressing his wand into her skin. What the-no, he's asexual. As asexual as they come and her fearful mind was running into the gutter. "Did you know that?" the dark lord questioned, pulling his wand away from her face, and Hermione felt so relieved her hands steadied. But it was short lived as she realised she didn't know what he was asking, why in the name of Merlin-it'd been too scary to pay attention to words. Holy mother-things were about to get scarier as he looked angry now. Better she didn't know than getting caught pretending she did, cause that'd enrage him further. Blink of an eye later, Hermione took a deep breath and nodded her head to say no. "The rhyme's about the plague killing muggles" Tom said gleefully, and her eyes widened in disbelief. Did he really say-was that true? "You don't seem to believe me" he continued, tilting his head a little to the left and she momentarily held her breath. She shouldn't anger him, and a part of her did believe him even though it didn't make sense.
"I do" Hermione said, hoping she sounded sincere. "I just can't understand how the words are about death" Crap, why did she say-no, otherwise her completely lying would've been obvious.
"That's why you can't believe me, even if you want to" the dark lord said, moving his head back to the centre, and the hairs on her arms stood up. Merlin, he knew.
"I trust you" she said in her best truthful tone, hoping it'd fix any damage and Tom immediately looked at the floor. Each second that went by with him unmoving, seemed to make her heart rate increase with it too. Had she made him angry, was he going to crucio her? Suddenly, the dark lord re-lit his wand and she jumped back in fright.
"I'm curious" Tom said, looking up. "What do you think its about?" he added, narrowing his eyes. Despite his kind of calm appearance, she couldn't relax as she wondered if answering would anger him, but then again not answering could too. "The rhyme, Granger," he continued in an impatient tone, and the head girl almost flinched.
"Erm-err-" she started in a low tone as anger started to show on his face.
"Do you need help finding your voice?" Tom said, almost shouting.
"I always thought it was about people that sold flowers and perfumes" Hermione said in a rushed voice, taking a step back.
"How did you come to that conclusion?" he asked with an expression of disbelief.
"The line, ring a ring a rosies. They're ring shaped rose garlands" she started with a cautious tone. "Then the line, a pocket full of posies. Must be referring to potpourri or some other scented items in their pockets" she added in a slightly calmer voice. "Last line, atisho atisho we all fall down. Means the perfume of roses and potpourri became too much while they were probably carrying it somewhere," she continued in a more confident tone. "So they sneezed and it was so powerful that they fell to the ground" The second she'd gone quiet Tom burst out laughing, and her heart painfully lurched from the unexpected behaviour. Was this good, nothing was certain when it came to an insane person. "Such an innocent explanation" the dark lord said breathlessly before laughing again, and she couldn't help the annoyed look on her face.
"That's the interpretation by a ten year old me" Hermione said a little defensively. "All children are innocent, that they'll see the world innocently is to be expected" she added in a higher pitched voice, and the heir of Slytherin's laughter immediately ceased. Her heart painfully lurched and she almost had a heart attack, as his face darkened from intense anger. Fuck, she should've kept her mouth shut.
"Then you don't know much about the real world" the dark lord said in a low icy voice, taking a step towards her, and she tightened the hold on her wand while finding it hard to breathe. "You're wrong" Tom suddenly shouted, pointing his wand at her. She jumped back with a fearful expression, and tried not to visibly shake as she waited for him to punish her with black magic.

Seconds later, he lowered his wand with an emotionless face, and she blinked several times in disbelief. Was this a trick or was he letting her of? Without warning, he started to walk away and she stood still, with an expression that was scared and unsure at the same time. After a few more steps, he halted and turned towards her. Then he made a come here motion with his hand, for a moment she hesitated before forcing her legs to obey. When the head girl got to Tom, he started to walk again, and soon they ended up moving forward side by side.

After almost a minute, Hermione relaxed a little. His behaviour had to mean he'd sort of forgiven her, surely? Now she understood why what she'd said was wrong, after having thought of Tom as a ten year old. The ugly truth was not all children were innocent, even in the muggle world history had murderers that were children. Without innocence they logically wouldn't look at the world innocently, Tom had been right to say she didn't know much about the brutality of the real world. Harry had said the dark lord had done many cruel things as a child, so Tom didn't want her to think he was innocent at a young age, since saying all children were would make him one too. As far as she was concerned, he'd over reacted way too much. Maybe it was a dark lord thing? Or he was mad, and getting more and more insane with time. As they turned into another corridor, the heir of Slytherin glanced at his wristwatch, and then he crossed his arms.
"Sing," Tom suddenly said, and a shocked expression plastered on her face. Did he really just say-? "The rhyme, Granger" he added in a louder voice, and she looked at him like he'd grown two heads. "Sing it" the dark lord commanded, and she instantly looked at the floor while blinking several times. Fuck, she was awake and this was not a nightmare. Obey or crucio, not really a choice. Tom suddenly froze, and she almost dropped from fright. "Ring a ring a rosie" Hermione started in a shaky singing vioice, while steadying herself with her eyes still downwards. "A pocket full of posies" she continued, and the heir of Slytherin began to walk again. "Atishoo atishoo we all fall down" Hermione added, following him.
"Did I ask you to stop?" Tom said coldly, after a few seconds of her being silent, and her shoulders slightly jumped.
"Ring a ring a rosie" Hermione sang again with her voice still trembling, and it stayed that way until she got to the end of the rhyme. Then she started from the beginning with her singing still weak, and as she repeatedly sung the lines, Hermione's fear and embarrassment slowly eroded away with time. Finally resulting in her making sounds with stronger vocals, and it was almost melodious too.

When they turned into a corridor that would lead to the heads quarters, the head girl felt confident enough to raise her head. In seconds she realised the dark lord's eyes were shut, and his hands now rested at his side. What the fuck, she thought as her voice slightly wavered, but she didn't stop singing. Did he want to listen to her without as much distraction as possible, so he'd-arrgh. Eww, no. Merlin, how could she even think such a-she was very tired and sleepy. Yes, that must be it, had to be. The heir of Slytherin was crazy, he always did weird stuff. Rarely did anything normal or logical apply to his behaviour, only he knew the freaky actual reasons for doing what he did.

As Persephone and Hades's painting came into view, the dark lord opened his eyes and crossed his arms. But he didn't say anything to her, so Hermione didn't stop singing even though she desperately wanted to. The two dimensional Goddess stared with a shocked expression, as she nudged her sleeping husband and in seconds, the God looked equally shocked.
"Pa-password" Persephone strutted, somewhat regaining composure.
"Medusa" the dark lord answered and the painted couple had a look, that said they were frightened but also fully convinced of his insanity, as they opened the lock. Seconds later, Hermione felt the same as them while she forced herself to follow Tom inside, and she was glad to find they were alone in the common room. The heir of Slytherin was staring towards the fireplace with his back to her, and she was now singing the nursery rhyme with a questioning expression, and sneaking glances towards her room. "Stop" Tom suddenly said, and she almost jumped as her voice became strangled before going silent. As time went by with the dark lord unmoving, her pulse quickened from uncertainty of what mood he was in. Why wouldn't it be good? She'd done all he'd asked so-there was no telling with Mr psycho. Suddenly, he faced her and she almost flinched. "The plague causes red ring shaped boils on the body, that's the line ring a ring a rosie" the dark lord said, tilting his head a little to the left, and she couldn't help crease her brows in slight shock. "The line a pocket full of posies, refers to a pack of herbs the muggles carried in the belief that it'd keep them safe" he said, un-tilting his head. "The line atishoo atishoo we all fall down, means the muggles dropped dead in the end" the heir of Slytherin continued, uncrossing his arms and she intentionally blinked, taking in the full real meaning of the rhyme. Holy mother-God, that was awful and tragic. Why on earth had people thought it was a good idea to-. "Muggles make their children sing about the deaths of their own," Tom said, interrupting and kind of completing her thought. "Glorifying the weakness of your kind, muggles are stupid" he said, emphasising stupid while raising an eyebrow, and it was like he was challenging her to say otherwise.

No way. She'd never forget the day he'd crucioed her, and forced her to say muggles were stupid. Now she was wiser, and knew being submissive wasn't wrong or shameful, as long as she won in the end by killing him. "Their destruction or survival, good things happening to them or bad" the dark lord added, taking a step towards her and her pulse quickened "It all reminds me of them" he continued, with anger creeping into his voice as he took another step forward, and her heart lurched. God, he was going to crucio her. She should've remembered he was on patrol and never have sung that rhyme, curse that painted woman with roses. "I hate muggles" Tom almost shouted, making a hand into a fist and Hermione couldn't help flinch. "Don't sing anything muggle, ever" he said in a low voice, closing his eyes, and she froze while breathing fast. Was he trying to calm his anger, or preparing to torture her? "Is that understood?" the dark lord voiced in a threatening tone, as he opened his eyelids. And for a few seconds Hermione stared dumbfounded, before vigorously shaking her head to say yes with a fearful expression. For awhile, the heir of Slytherin looked at her unmoving with an emotionless face and she stared back, still feeling scared. "Are nightmares still troubling you?" Tom suddenly said in a calm voice. The bushy haired witch couldn't help feel startled, causing her to blink a few times, and breathe in sharply. Then as Hermione processed the meaning of his words she started to relax, thank God he'd gotten over it without crucioing her.
"Yes" the witch said in a rushed voice, feeling a little panicked as she realised she hadn't answered him.
"Then this will help greatly," the dark lord said, taking a vial out of his pocket. "Drink it" he commanded, holding it towards her and her fearful state returned. What was it really? The colour of the liquid in the transparent holder was continuously changing, from pink to white and then white to pink. She'd never before seen or heard about such a potion, therefore it was one of his own inventions. "Erm-" Hermione started, she didn't want to drink it. "It's not so bad anymore, but thank you for offering" she finished quickly. There, her condition was gone and she'd thanked him for trying to help, so unless he had an ulterior motive, he'd go away with his suspicious potion. But if it was otherwise-Oh, God. Holy mother Mary, the dark lord always had a personal gain and that meant-. The head boy pointed his wand at her, as if on cue and her heart started to thud loudly.
"It's not an offer, Granger" Tom said in a low voice. "It's an order" he snapped and she jumped in fright. He suddenly grabbed her by the hair, and she screamed. But there was no sound and she realised with a feeling of dread, that he'd magically muted her. He stared unblinking into her eyes, and she did the same but with her heart racing. Without warning, he let out a bitter sounding laugh and she couldn't stop her shoulders, from shivering in fear. Merlin, he was going to crucio her.
"I'm sorry" Hermione whispered with a pleading look.
"Quiet" the dark lord hissed, placing his wand across her lips, and she couldn't help whimper in fear. "Have you ever been sincerely apologetic?" he questioned, tightening his grip on her hair, and she stared wide eyed, not knowing how to respond. "Were they all just pleas to avoid harm?" Tom continued in a cold tone, lifting his magical stick off her skin. Oh, God, she thought looking at anything but him. Should she say yes or no, maybe nothing.
"Speak" he ordered, nearly shouting as he pressed his wand into her neck, and she couldn't help whimper in fear again.
"N-not exactly," Hermione stuttered, almost surprised to have her voice back as she forced herself to look at him. Merlin, was staying in the middle safe?
"Was it the same when you said you trusted me?" Tom asked with a sudden blank expression, as he decreased the pressure on his stick. Fuck, what was she-it wasn't a good idea to appear like a liar.
"I do trust a lot of things you say and do," the head girl said in a low voice, praying that she looked and sounded truthful.
"So I have your incomplete trust," the dark lord said, raising an eyebrow and she almost jumped. "You half trust me," he added, taking his wand of her neck and her heart painfully lurched. Bloody Merlin, she'd said the wrong thing.
"I-err-" the bushy haired witch started, slightly trembling.
"Half isn't always bad," Tom interrupted with a sudden half smile, and her apology froze in her throat. "Just like an incomplete memory isn't always harmful" he added, with a full smile on his lips. Her eyes widened in terror and she tried to break free, but his grip was too strong.
"Riddle, please" Hermione almost wailed with a frightened expression, as he pointed his wand at her.
"Sshh, I won't hurt you" he said in a tone that sounded caring, as he touched her temple with his stick and she attempted to escape again. "Imperio" Tom said with a mildly annoyed look, and a horrified expression plastered on her face. Then a calm look slowly started to take hold of her visage and she started to wonder who she was, where she was and who was the handsome boy opposite her? Why was his hand-oh, he was removing it, but why had his hand been in her hair in the first place? She couldn't remember, why-it didn't matter, everything was fine. The dark haired male was now holding something towards her, what was-it was safe to drink, she should drink it. But she didn't know him so how could she trust-she could trust him, she did trust him. He wouldn't harm her, she should drink it, it was for her own good. Yes, of course. As Hermione took the vial from him, she couldn't help give him a smile. He was so good looking, like a prince from a fairy tale-who was he? Why couldn't she remember who he-it wasn't important-all was well and fine.

She should drink from the mini bottle type thing in her hand-what was it? It was good for her, she should drink it, she needed to drink it. Yes, she would. Hermione raised it to her lips, and couldn't resist smiling at the gorgeous boy once again. This time he returned the smile, she felt shy suddenly and she couldn't understand why. With her eyes cast down and her hands feeling weak, she drunk the potion. In the end she was glad to have done it without spilling any, as she lowered the vial she spotted a drop in the corner. Strange, the colour seemed to be changing. Could that really be something a safe-of course, what she'd drunk was safe and she was fine. Now she should return the glass holder to the princely guy, yes. Hermione held it towards Tom with a dreamy expression, and as he took it appearing pleased, she wondered again who he was. If she didn't know him why had she-that didn't matter, all was well and she was fine.

Suddenly, the male pointed a stick at her, and she knitted her brows as she shrank back, feeling scared. Was he going to hit her with it-No, no. She should calm down, he was going to help her with it, and she really needed the help. The head girl stood still with a calm expression, as the heir of Slytherin drew closer with a relaxed look. "If you don't have pleasant dreams, you won't have any nightmares tonight" he said in a soft voice, touching her temple with his wooden rod. How could he know that or be sure-who was he? She didn't know-why-she was safe, it was fine. "Obliviate" the handsome boy suddenly said and for a second, a questioning expression was on her face as she wondered what it meant, and then her world went black. "Goodnight, Granger" a male voice said, and Hermione blinked confused before realising Tom was in front of her, and he'd said it.
"Goodnight" she said with a slightly lost look, how comes he looked so calm? He had relaxed and stared at her, after she'd said she wouldn't sing anything muggle again. Ah, yes. God, she must be getting really sleepy. "Your eyelids are starting to develop a mind of their own," the dark lord said, turning towards the staircase. "Hurry to bed before you fall," he added, before disappearing behind his door, and an uneasy feeling started to develop in her stomach. As Hermione climbed up the stairs, for some strange reason her mind re-played him saying to bed, and when she got to her door her cheeks were flushed pink.

After she entered her room, Hermione mentally scolded herself as she quickly readied herself for sleep. Merlin, sleep deprivation was really making her silly and immature. He'd told her to go to her bed for her, not go to bed for him, because she would never-arrgh. She would not think about that anymore, she seriously needed sleep because she was going insane.

After Hermione got into bed, it wasn't long before she recalled the memory of her singing, and a few seconds after that she couldn't help laugh out loud. Without the fear of Tom's unforgiveables, it was actually really funny. Her singing a nursery rhyme to Voldemort while walking the corridors of Hogwarts, especially after he'd requested it. That sounded more insane than insane, no one in her time would ever believe. Yet, it was true in a way. Hermione laughed once more before placing her head on the pillow, and then with a smile on her face, she easily fell asleep.

Hello readers, hopefully I still have readers. Sorry for taking very long to update.

I really do try to work as fast as I can, but my stressful and difficult life always gets in the way.

I had my first child in june last year, a baby boy that is cute but a nightmare at the same time, so I have even less time for myself now.

Hope this chapter isn't awfully written, and please forgive any grammatical errors.

I have proof read it to the best of my ability.

Also, don't know what's up with fanfiction's formatting and spacing. So please forgive me if there's too much or little space between paragraphs, or if the line spacing seems to change from paragraph to paragraph.

As I've said before, no matter how long it takes, if I'm still alive I will finnish all my stories.

A big thank you to everyone who reviewed,

Please, please do review, even if it's a one word review. They really motivate me to update faster, and lets me know the readers really want more.